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Petrilli on Common Core: Folly and Sophistry

Common Core supporters are in a frenzied state these days. As (finally) people learn more about Common Core and its massive testing focus, doubts are being raised on a wide-spread basis. Mike Petrilli (no K-12 teaching experience) over at the Fordham Institute is one of the most vocal defenders of Common Core. Petrilli needs a lesson in Federalism but we will save that for another day. Recently, Petrilli has become unhinged by articles from the Pioneer Institute. He called them liars. Petrilli (no K-12 teaching experience) also gave recent testimony in Indiana- in support of Common Core. Petrilli’s presentation was full of lies misleading statements and assorted cherry picked claims. Let’s deal with Petrilli’s “Indiana Debacle” first.

Petrilli (no K-12 teaching experience) made some claims in Indiana that I will deal with here.

1.Petrilli: Indiana should keep going because of all the time and money already invested.  My response: This is akin to the old saying, “It does not matter if the horse is blind just keep loading the wagon.” Petrilli is engaging in high sophistry.

2. Petrilli: Indiana has terrible NAEP scores. My response: What matters is END PRODUCT. Indiana is 4th in the nation in graduation rates. Oddly, Petrilli forgot to mention this.

3. Petrilli: Not using Common Core will leave Indiana out of the “Wave of innovation” that is being unleashed. My response: Does Petrilli have a crystal ball? Maybe he is referring to the massive empirical evidence to support Common Core?

4. Petrilli gave estimates on cost. My response: He never once mentioned ongoing infrastructure costs or the fact that the costs he does list are (for the most part) recurring. He also left out the increase in total days lost to testing. Some states already spend 80 days testing and Common Core will increase that in almost all cases.

5. Petrilli pushes the online learning scam (see Lee Fang) that Jeb Bush and Tom Vander Ark are pushing. My response: Bush and Vander Ark join Petrilli in the zero club for K-12 teaching experience. Petrilli ignores the massive evidence against virtual education(sic) and once again says, “The horse is blind but keep loading the wagon.”  Petrilli was working in his idea of “choice.” You see, with Common Core those into virtual education(sic) will make a ton-o-cash.

What about Petrilli (no K-12 teaching experience) and his attacks on Pioneer and Mr. Stergios?

1. Pioneer correctly pointed out the flawed and over-hyped Florida Model. Petrilli continues to hold out Florida as some kind of leader. My response: Florida is near the bottom in graduation rates. I could stop there but let me go on about the state where African-American graduation rates for males are criminal. They are below Mississippi (see Schott report).  I only like end results but Petrilli lauds Florida NAEP scores.  In recent years Florida NAEP scores are problematic. Gaps between the races are growing. See my article here for the facts.

2. Petrilli said that Pioneer was wrong to suggest that there will be less classic literature under Common Core. My response: Petrilli, not having any classroom experience, has no idea about what goes in classrooms today. Petrilli said, “Goodbye Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn- but hello Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, which is included in the Common Core. Other authors mentioned include William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Harper Lee, Edgar Allen Poe… I could go on.” My response: Does Petrilli think his readers are dumb enough to think Common Core will now give us the chance to study Poe? Dickinson? Shakespeare? These are all staples in classrooms and have been for years- long before Gates wrote his first check to Fordham and long before Petrilli was born.  Common Core has a decided shift towards informational text and Petrilli should know this. Methinks he does. Students can enjoy, “The History of Cement.” Yes. There will be less time for literature. But this is a parlor game that proponents love to play. The real issue is that we don’t need more standards and more testing. There is no standards crisis.

3. Petrilli said that the experts at Fordham gave the standards in Connecticut a D for math and English. He said the standards were lousy. My response: Connecticut is one of the leaders in graduation rates in the nation. End results matter.

4. Petrilli attacked Pioneer for claiming Common Core is a curriculum and not just standards. My response: If true, why is Petrilli not calling for a new curriculum as opposed to standards? You see, he can’t. He is playing word games to avoid Constitutional issues. I cannot believe that Petrilli said the Federal Government “incentivized” states to go for Common Core. This is called extortion in the real world. Holding money over the heads of cash-strapped states in a time of crisis if they just accept Common Core is gangsterism of the highest order. Not being a teacher probably led to Petrilli to think that standards do not drive (and become) the curriculum.

Petrilli and the rest of the kennel-fed media are doing their best to promote what Dr. Chris Tienken at Seton Hall calls decision making without data. Tienken notes that Common Core fails under the weight of empiricism. Please see the full paper by Tienken in the Winter 2011 AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice.

Petrilli is part of the constant crisis crowd that Gerald Bracey called out years ago. As Fordham cherry picks, more money is diverted to testing and standards. I have read the ELA standards of 40 states so far and cannot find any that are inferior to Common Core. I was not funded by Bill Gates to evaluate standards.

Born from a lie and baptized by charlatans, Common Core marches on with plenty of assorted flacks and shills. But what does Common Core really involve?

“A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  Macbeth: Act 5 Scene 5


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