By Ann Burruss, parent and educator
Are the Common Core State Standards and accompanying PARCC tests the vanguard for the corporate takeover of public education? Joshua Bleiberg in “Four reasons that critics of Common Core should reconsider their opposition” confirms connections exist between multiple aspects of today’s failed corporate education reforms and support for Common Core. The following are four reasons to reject Bleiberg’s argument and to consider opposing Common Core and PARCC testing.
1) Big data is coming. “Standards will improve how big data works” is suggested by Bleiberg as a reason to support Common Core. Parents don’t want big data to work on or anywhere near their children. Promoting ‘”big data” as a Common Core feature not a bug, shows a stunning lack of awareness or respect for parents’ concerns. Bleiberg writes, “National standards also make it easier to link databases from separate states and districts together, which enables larger data sets.” Large data sets are not necessarily better-used or more valid data sets. States are awash in data today, to little good effect. Accountability and evaluation systems based on a single high-stakes test such as PARCC are invalid indicators of student learning or teacher effectiveness.
2) Market efficiencies enrich corporations. Bleiberg states “Standards also lower the barriers for new companies to develop programs.” In practice the exact opposite is unfolding. CCSS is consolidating curriculum and testing materials. Vast profits will be made by the Common Core curriculum dealers and PARCC testing companies who got in on the ground floor. Benefits to “new companies”? Doubtful.
3) Market efficiencies grow for-profit charter schools. Bleiberg writes “Developers can create a single tool for a national market rather then many tools for every set of standards.” Bleiberg obliquely acknowledges that states have existing standards – but 50 sets of state standards do not provide adequate business opportunities to corporate profit-seekers. CCSS allows charter schools to experience huge efficiencies, allowing them to purchase just one curricula for their multi-state business enterprises, enhancing their business model, which is simply making profits from taxpayer money – money that should got to educating children.
4) New ‘governance’ gets rid of school boards and direct accountability. Bleiberg uses a new buzzword promoted by Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix and Rocketship charter schools: governance. The word ‘governance’ is used by the corporate reformers to promote the removal of local elected school boards. Local governments know their constituents’ needs and are nimble enough to act. Corporatizers prefer appointed boards and unaccountable not-for-profit charter school boards. Hastings has set a national goal of 90% of students enrolled in charter schools by 2030. Elected school boards are seen as a hindrance to the speedy implementation of corporate takeover.
Elected local school boards listen to parents, educators and citizens who are becoming increasingly alarmed by the convergence of corporate interests to ‘create efficiencies’ to capture profit from public education. High education standards are essential to equitable and effective education, but must it be Common Core standards? Bleiberg’s article serves as a warning that the alarm bells ringing over CCSS and PARCC are justified on all fronts: big data, corporate enrichment, for-profit charter schools and governance.