Sunday, April 26, 2015

Common Core Bad Kabuki Theater

I am physically nauseous as I write these words, but uber-liberal Max Brantley has a much more honest assessment of Governor Asa Hutchinson's statements and approach to Common Core than some of my conservative friends. It is not that Max is more honest than they are. I have found he is perfectly willing to distort the truth, even to the point of what can realistically be called lying, if that is what it takes to smear Republicans in general and conservatives in particular. The sad thing is that lately he has not had to resort to such tactics to make the Republicans look bad- he can make them look downright awful just by reporting what they are doing and offering the obvious conclusions about what it means.
Nor is Max smarter than my conservative friends. Sure he is clever, but the real difference is that a lot of them want to believe that all of these machinations and "listening tours" and rebrandings are all going to result in Arkansas abandoning Common Core. Brantley, whose powers of observation are in this case unhindered by such desires, can just add up the facts and come to an unemotional conclusion that its all a big show. He is only wrong when he is wrong, he is not wrong just because he is Brantley.
Others media outlets have also noted the obvious, that the elites here as in other states are just going to slap a new name on the program, add a state specific standard here or there, then try to sell the warmed-over product as something "new", just as they did with the "private" option. It is a tactic that is tired and transparent but is still useful because it is able to fool one subset of people - those who wish to be fooled.
Kicking the idea of our approach to Common Core off to this commission is simply a way to add a few Arkansas tweaks and give it a new name while retaining the core program. This is exactly what Hutchinson appears to be doing with Medicaid Expansion now that the Private Option has been unmasked. His commission chair for the Common Core task force is designated "Tea Party Betrayer" Tim Griffin, who came up through the ranks as a protege of Karl Rove. Karl Rove, leader of the group of elitist Republicans making war on the Tea Party, is a Bush guy, and they love centralization of education in all forms, including Common Core.
Hutchinson and the Republicans also went to extraordinary lengths to weaken the requirements for Education Director in order to shoe-horn former state senator Johnny Key into the position. Key is an ardent supporter of Common Core, and would not have been the pick if there was any doubt Hutchinson wanted the global standards implemented. If you watch what Asa Hutchinson does, rather than what he says, it's obvious the intention is to foist Common Core on us. The average person does not want it, but the elites do.
Sure the spin in the recent media reports are that he says he wants an "Arkansas Solution", but when you look into the details that is exactly what I and others have described. When he says there is "no preconceived outcome" I assure you he does not mean that whether or not Arkansas stays in Common Core is up in the air. He means that if we add a few additional standards to the mandated ones our ruling class have ordered us to include, that the content of those is not preconceived.
How can I know all of this? Listen to the man closely. In the link above he says "“I don’t know what the outcome will be,” Hutchinson told the panel Thursday. “It’s not preconceived, but I do expect high standards, high expectations for our students that are transparent, that we can measure where we are in reference to the competitive world, other states.”  Tell me how in the world we can refuse common core and still have results "that we can measure where we are in reference to the competitive world, other states"?  You can't. Its political double-talk.
I tire of listening to it, and I tire of people accepting it at face value when it is delivered at two-faced value. Not that I blame Governor Hutchinson personally. There are simply a lot of people who want to be lied to, and when there is a market for that, the need will be filled. If he did not do it, someone else would. The root problem is a population willing to accept such duplicity, the duplicitous politicians are merely a symptom, not the  cause of our troubles. The root cause is that too many of us have lost our love for the truth. When we love the truth more than the comfort of easy answers and pleasant falsehoods, then we will get it. If we are willing to accept less, we will have less.
That boils over to the way problems are solved. When Hutchinson says in the same article :
“I didn’t mind people on this panel, this task force, that had preconceived ideas. That’s life. That’s a part of our background, and if you’ve studied and thought about it, you have some preconceived ideas, but the most important criteria is that you’re open-minded and you’re willing to listen to the other side and willing to see facts and data and to adjust where you are. That is critically important, because otherwise you’re never going to arrive at a consensus.”
It tells me that he is using the Hegelian Dialectic as the method of "solving" the problem. That is, the purpose of the Commission is not to find the "right" answer. It is to reach "consensus" in an approach that takes the premise that there is no right or wrong answer, only a process of meeting in the middle. If I say 2+2 = 4 and someone else says that 2+2 = 22 what we do is meet in the middle and agree that 2+2 = 12. I am going to give you a link to this short article which describes exactly what is wrong with using this as the default method of problem "solving" and what the outcome must be if we don't change. If you want to understand what is happening to you, big picture, please read it.
I also strongly disagree with the Governor's claim that we can't let local school districts have primary control of setting their own standards because of the Arkansas Constitution. He said, "“We can’t say, ‘Well, we just want to give it all because we believe in local flexibility and local control,’” he said. “The constitution of Arkansas gives that responsibility to the state, and so we’ve got to have standards that are high and high expectations all across the state of Arkansas for every student.” .
You don't care more about those children than their parents Governor. Nor do you know more about what is good for them than their parents. Nor does the Arkansas Constitution mandate any such thing as you are claiming that it does, and if it did, why did we give school districts such wide latitude for the first 100 years after the state constitution was adopted? The only part of the constitution he could be talking about is Article 14 which reads:
"Intelligence and virtue being the safeguards of liberty and the bulwark of a free and good government, the State shall ever maintain a general, suitable and efficient system of free public schools and shall adopt all suitable means to secure to the people the advantages and opportunities of education."
Is centralized control, micro-management, and 85% or more of our standards being derived from an outside-of Arkansas group consistent with this passage? Are they going to agree with Arkansans as to what constitutes "virtue"? Is this "suitable"? Is centralized micro-management "efficient"? At most, this provision in the state constitution permits Arkansas to set "general" standards, while letting the districts pick their own. It does not mandate Common Core, even if it is renamed "Arkansas Core". If this provision mandates that the state is responsible for school standards then submitting to a Common Core actually violates this provision of the constitution, because it would outsource a function delegated to the state in the constitution to an outside group.


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