Out of sight, not out of mind

Tom Dunn - Contributing Columnist

It is well-established that politicians rely on the public’s short attention span when it comes to legislative mandates they create that dominate our lives. They develop strategies that are based on their political beliefs, many of which go against even the simplest reasoning, they provide explanations for these strategies that are even less logical than the mandates themselves, then they force their plans upon unsuspecting citizens before moving on to their next illogical idea. It’s a process that occurs over and over and over again. But, finally, more and more people are figuring out their strategy and are shouting, “Enough!”

The Common Core debate is the perfect example of this oft-repeated drill. It has been many months since it was shoved down the throats of public educators throughout the country, so we are supposed to have forgotten all of the political hyperbole that accompanied its implementation.

But, let’s not let the pro-Common Core pols off the hook so easily.

Americans were told that the Common Core would standardize learning throughout the nation, guaranteeing that a student in Troy, Ohio would be learning the same subject matter as a student in Troy, Ala., who would be learning the same subject matter as a student in Troy, N.Y. Let’s go to Fantasy Island for just one minute and pretend like that is even possible, given that pesky little individualism gene that resides in each one of us. Even if a set of standards could produce such results, and they can’t, one might take notice at the fact that not all states adopted them in the first place and some who did have backed out since they were first adopted. So, from the onset of implementation, this national standardization argument was a sham.

Furthermore, the implementation of the PARCC tests, which piggy-backed on the Common Core, were sold to the public as a valid way to let them know just how well their students and schools were performing. But, as a recent article in the New York Times uncovered, that claim was no truer than the “standardization” claim was. Since this is all about politics and not about education, different states have randomly established different “passing” scores for success on these tests. In other words, a student’s academic prowess may be determined as much by the state in which he/she resides as by his/her performance on the test, since a score that may be labeled as proficient in Ohio may be labeled as less than proficient in another state. So, given that little tidbit, we now know that these test results mean – drumroll, please – absolutely nothing.

Nice use of millions and millions and millions and millions of our tax dollars, huh?

Now, why would I take the time to continue to beat this dead horse known as the Common Core? After all, isn’t this old news, news we of feeble minds should have long ago forgotten, and haven’t these professional “fixers” moved on to bigger and better things?

Why, yes they have, and that is the point.

In just the last couple of weeks, headlines have trumpeted the fantastic work our legislators have done cleaning up the charter school mess in this state while their solutions are as superficial as their Common Core idea was.

And, still more headlines have trumpeted the notion that they have expanded preschool opportunities for needy children throughout the state, with the truth being that they are impacting just a small number of children in selected locations, thus providing no relief whatsoever to many others.

In other words, in the political world, it’s business as usual.

So, the reason I keep clubbing this horse is because there is a valuable lesson herein for all of us, a lesson that, ironically an educational program like the Common Core can teach us if we just pay attention closely enough.

The political PR machine is both powerful and corrupt, and one would be wise to read anything it creates through jaded eyes.


Tom Dunn

Contributing Columnist

Tom Dunn is the superintendent of the Miami County Educational Service Center.

Tom Dunn is the superintendent of the Miami County Educational Service Center.