From @ THE CHALK FACE, Saturday, September 7, 2013. See
A Sane Reply To Bill McCallum: Why I Cannot Support the Common
Core "State" Standards
By Michael Paul Goldenberg
William McCallum is, by his own description, a man who was
"born in Australia and came to the United States to pursue a Ph. D. in
mathematics at Harvard University, a professor at the University of
Arizona, working in number theory and mathematics education." He is
also the chair of the Common Core mathematics standards writing
I know that he has been blogging about CCSSI for quite some time and
is very, very protective of its reputation and the efforts he and his
committee put into creating something that, clearly, he believes in.
Yesterday, I saw something on his blog from early August with the
intriguing title, "Join with me in support of the Common
Core". Here is what he wrote there [see
I have tried to stay out of the politics swirling around the
standards and focus this blog on helping people who are trying to
implement them. And, after this post, I will keep it that way here at
Tools for the Common Core.
But I've decided it's time take a stand against the
swirling tide of insanity that threatens our work, so I'm starting a
new blog called I Support the Common Core [see
http://isupportthecommoncore.net/ ]. It will provide resources,
links to articles, rebuttals, and discussion to help those who are
fighting the good fight. If you sign up you will be getting emails and
calls for action from me and others. Tools for the Common Core will
remain available for those of you who prefer a quieter life and just
want to get on with your jobs.
The success of this effort depends on you. If only 10 brave souls sign
up I will thank them and close down the effort. If 1,000 of you join
then we can get something done (and I promise there will be
I attempted to reply, but comments had been closed, with only one
person actually leaving any response at all (brief and positive).
I've not yet gone to the site Bill links to, because I was busy
crafting the following reply, which I discovered couldn't be posted
Be fair, Bill. To say or imply that all critics of CCSSI are insane
or immersed in "insanity" is to refuse to recognize reality. I
understand you're protective of your work, but the objections are
not all a product of either right-wing paranoia, infused with Tea
Party tin-hat wearing conspiracy theories about Obama, the UN, and the
black helicopters. Some of us are quite progressive, quite in favor of
improving the overall quality of mathematics education, and not
worried about the New World Order according to Glenn Beck or Rush
But a national initiative driven by billionaires, privatizers, and
corporations is not the way to go, Bill. Your math standards have
flaws, they seem to have often or entirely ignored the work of
developmental psychologist and the input of early elementary teachers.
Topics seem to have been moved (mostly to lower and lower grades)
without clear-cut evidence that students will be ready to handle them.
I see nothing that accounts for students who will lose key content
because it was pushed to the grade(s) they have already completed:
These are not trivial issues. And that's not a complete list. But my
deepest concerns have little to do with any given content standard.
They have to do with those who have funded this project from its
inception, paid for the tests, the rollout, the propaganda machine
that is now in full-throated, panic-fueled mode (your post here seems
like a tiny but definite part of the attempt to deny that there's
any reason to worry), and their motives. On my view, from Day One,
this has been a billionaire/corporate attempt to take over public
education, pure and simple. Of course, there are all sorts of
"reasons" given that don't have to do with the real motive ($$):
we have heard for 30+ years about how our nation is "at risk,"
oddly all due to our allegedly failing schools, lazy teachers, poor
standards, lazy students (that one's been around since at least the
days of Horace Mann), and eventually the "real" straw villains:
those greedy teachers' unions! Since Ronald Reagan busted the air
traffic controllers union (who supported him in the 1980 election, by
the way), it's been clear that there is a powerful movement in this
country on the part of the rich and powerful to turn back the clock to
the days before the labor movement had helped workers gain decent
wages and working conditions, something that eventually spilled over
into public service jobs like teaching.
What you have chosen to participate in, knowingly or not, is a major
piece of that retrogressive effort to put maximum power and profit
back in the hands of the plutocrats or 1% as they have come to be
known in the last couple of years. They own the book publishing, the
testing companies, the professional development groups, the charter
schools, and they will not stop until this machine they've built has
destroyed all our public schools by labeling them as "failures"
and shutting them down, to be replaced by for-profit charters and/or
vouchers students can use to pay for whatever private education is
open to them (and it will NOT be any more fair or equitable under that
system for poor kids than it is now, and often it will be far worse).
Having worked with a number of for-profit managed charter schools, I
see all too clearly what the future holds for poor kids and kids of
color. I've written about the phoniness of "choice" that is
being dangled like it means something: http://bit.ly/17n2e0u
and I claim that it is a demonstrable scam of the worst sort.
So no, I won't join you, Bill, because to do so would be
unethical and, flatly, wrong. I hope you come to realize some day how
you've been played by those in power and decide to join those of us
who are not lunatics, not insane, but intelligent people fighting for
one of America's most vital democratic institutions. We are trying
to make positive changes that respect teachers as professionals,
parents as stakeholders, and children as deserving more opportunities,
more freedom, more respect, and more love, wisdom, and kindness than
this twisted juggernaut of high-stakes testing, arbitrary, rigid
"standards," and obscene worship of "rigor" (and money) will
ever understand or grant.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244