Not to get conspiratorial about it but exactly what is happening over at the New York Times? Has there been an outbreak of Common-Core-itis, some strange new virus that somehow destroys the reasoning power and critical thinking of brilliant people reducing them to dummies for corporate ventriloquists? Even as the paper has never had anything even remotely “left leaning” or even as “liberal “ as its conservative critics incessantly claim, even though the writing of columnists like Thomas Friedman and David Brooks would make Pollyanna herself blush, even though it is as corporate as corporate can be, the Times has usually offered at least one columnist who observed reality from outside the comfortable hermetically sealed world of corporate bubble-dum, and have, after their fashion, even challenged it.
In happier times there might even be two.
Paul Krugman and Charles Blow, in fact, are two such writers. And yet, within the span of a few days, on top of yet another wildly effusive column by Bill Keller, both Krugman and Blow, far and away the most thoughtful of NY Times columnists, have each written articles praising the Common Core State Standards based on the same stale cream-puff quality of research habitually favored by Friedman and Brooks or, far that matter, Keller.
The decline in the quality of both articles is extraordinary.
Whereas Krugman seems to simply take as gospel Bill Keller’s biased and ignorant rant, Blow partially bases his conclusion about the CCSS on information from the Broad Foundation, which is analogous to basing research on the links between smoking and lung cancer from information from Joe Camel of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Still, I want to make it clear here that I am not writing here about their opinions or even so much rather the information (or lack there of) oh what their opinions are based on but rather their impetus and motivations for writing about the subject at all.
(By the way, can someone somewhere please explain to me how it is possible that “graduates” of a completely unaccredited, transparently ideologically driven private organization such as the Broad Foundation’s Superintendent Academies can legally be running a public trust as vital as the public school system in city after city in America ? How is this possible? Why is this not a scandal? Like any teacher, I had to spend six years in college, earn two degrees, take a battery of tests, be fingered printed certified by the state before I could legally even step into a classroom of children unaccompanied by a certified professional.)
For more on Blow’s sources and rational see posts by Diane Ravitch and Arthur Goldstein.
Nor am I not speaking of Krugman and Blow’s political bent. Democracy is, by definition, a messy, loud, inefficient system that cannot function without equal measure of confrontation and consensus. The clash of opinions is what makes a democracy function. Informed opinions, however, are what make a democracy thrive, and it is the quality of information in all three articles appearing in this most influential publication which is particularly disturbing.
Above all I am trying to understand how, on this one particular subject – a subject, mind you, championed by the unelected, unaccountable, unconscionable plutocrats who have completely overtaken our public school system — two people as intelligent and thoughtful as Blow and Krugman could produce such propagandistic drivel?
How is this to be explained? Is this simply a coincidence? Or, is it something more aligned with FDR’s quip that there is no such things as either an accident or a coincidence in politics.
I will go further: based on what I’ve read of both men’s works in the past on virtually every other subject, I find it impossible to believe that, faced with the facts concerning the genesis, political machinations, unknowable results and billions to be made from unwitting American taxpayers on what is nothing more than a wholly untested experiment of American students and teachers, I find it extremely difficult to believe that either Krugman or Blow would be stating anything near the positions they have stated.
I do not wish to impugn the integrity of either of these men. But I, like many people whose livelihood is directly and imminently threatened by the imposition of the CCSS and the policies surrounding it, and whose child will be faced with a battery of tests like none that has ever before been seen, am deeply disturbed, by the confluence of the Common Core chorus among the elite and only the elite, with little or nor consideration whatsoever to anyone else effected by it. And I speak here not merely of the corporate elite. Consider that American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and the National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel are both tireless proponents of the CCSS, even as the hundreds of thousands of their due paying members are not. Indeed, out of the many perverse realities made manifest in its saga, the advent of the Common Core may have occasioned the first time in the history of American labor where plutocrats, corporate chieftains and union presidents are united in their desire to keep a labor force – in this case teachers — as utterly powerless in the creation of their working conditions as possible.
The decline in quality of both Krugman’s and Blow’s work on this particular subject makes no sense to me at all, any more than does the suicidal enthusiasm of the AFT and NEA. All of the above are but terrible signs of something in America that grows increasingly powerful in direct proportion to American citizens growing increasingly powerless.
Something is wrong here. Very wrong. Something does not add up. This is not the country I was born in, problematic as that nation was, nor is not the country I want to raise my child in. There is something the American citizenry is not being told and that something is aimed straight at the remains of our already enfeebled, anemic, perhaps terminally ill democracy.