Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Truth About Common Core

Even Bill Gates now admits that his Common Core educational reform program has failed. And yet, Joy Pullmann explains at The Federalist, he is not just going to fold his tent and go back to something he knows about. Not at all. Like a good apparatchik he is going to double down on failure. He refuses to believe that his idea was bad. He blames the implementation. 

One thing we know about philosopher kings, even high tech philosopher kings: they never admit to failure. They just call for more and better. Since the Gates funds are basically unlimited, he can keep throwing money at the problem.

Pullmann offers an excellent analysis of what was wrong with Common Core. And she even names names, shows us who was responsible, from Gates and his wife to the Obama administration.

It’s a sad story of what happens when people who know nothing about education believe that, because they are rich, they can assemble the best people and produce the best results. In truth, if they had wanted to develop a better educational program they could have gone to places like Shanghai and Seoul and Singapore to look at what works in real world situations.

Pullmann writes:

Since 2009, the Gates Foundation’s primary U.S. activity has focused on establishing and implementing Common Core, a set of centrally mandated curriculum rules and tests for what children are to learn in each K-12 grade, with the results linked to school and teacher ratings and punitive measures for low performers. The Gates Foundation has spent more than $400 million itself and influenced $4 trillion in U.S. taxpayer funds towards this goal. Eight years later, however, Bill Gates is admitting failure on that project, and a “pivot” to another that is not likely to go any better.

“Based on everything we have learned in the past 17 years, we are evolving our education strategy,” Gates wrote on his blog as a preface to a speech he gave last week in Cleveland. He followed this by detailing how U.S. education has essentially made little improvement in the years since he and his foundation — working so closely with the Obama administration that federal officials regularly consulted foundation employees and waived ethics laws to hire several — began redirecting trillions of public dollars towards programs he now admits haven’t accomplished much….

But it looks like this is as close to an apology or admission of failure as we’re going to get, folks. Sorry about that $4 trillion and mangled years of education for American K-12 kids and teachers. Failing with your kids and money for eight years is slowly getting billionaire visionaries to “evolve” and pledge to respect the hoi polloi a little more, though, so be grateful.

Someone should ban the overuse of the word: evolving. In truth, the program failed. In truth, government largesse did not help any of America’s children learn better or faster. In truth, this means that Gates and Co. should scrap the program and perhaps get out of a business they know nothing about.

Pullmann offers Gates the best advice. One trusts that he will not take it and that American schoolchildren will suffer for his arrogance:

I have been hard on Gates over the years for Common Core because he has used his fabulous financial power irresponsibly. He’s forced American citizens into an experimental and at best academically mediocre policy fantasy that has further eroded American government’s legitimacy, which depends upon the consent of the governed. He and Melinda may mean well, but they haven’t done well on this major initiative. It’s going to take a lot more than passive-aggressive side references to their failure to make up for the years of classroom chaos their bad ideas inflicted on many U.S. teachers and kids without their consent. A direct apology and dedication to the “first, do no harm” principle would be a start.


trigger warning said...

"[Gates] refuses to believe that his idea was bad. He blames the implementation."

Echoing a commenter in an earlier post, why is it that no one ever claims national socialism failed because they didn't do it right?

It is the essence of Progressivism to assume there is, theoretically, a "better way". And the more counterintuitive and bizarre the theoretically "better way" is, the more credit redounds to the brilliance and nuance of the theoretician. When the theory fails, it is always the fault of the morons who pissed in the Ambrosia Bowl.

Sam L. said...

Dammit! WHEN will we EVER get the right person to implement this? WHEN??
My money is on "never".