Sunday, Bill Keller wrote an op-ed in the NY Times excoriating most conservatives for believing that the Common Core is part of the Liberal Agenda (which we all know will convert your kids to Mexicanism and force them to say atheist prayers in Homosexual). That’s a very important point. However, this, from the same op-ed, is a very stupid point (boldface mine):
This is an ambitious undertaking, and there is plenty of room for debate about precisely how these standards are translated into classrooms. But the Common Core was created with a broad, nonpartisan consensus of educators, convinced that after decades of embarrassing decline in K-12 education, the country had to come together on a way to hold our public schools accountable. Come together it did — for a while.
This is the educational zombie myth that just won’t die. The data are absolutely clear: student performance has consistently risen over the last 40 years. Here are some data from the 2012 NAEP Long Term Trends Report (pdf):
We can argue that we should be doing better, especially in light of the state-to-state gaps, but this is not a sign of decline (a rough rule of thumb is that a ten point increase approximates one grade level).
The tenacity of this mistaken belief among educated elites rivals that of creationism among fundamentalists or of … conspiratorial beliefs about ‘Obamacore.’ This isn’t a case of ‘someone is wrong on the internet’: if we don’t even understand the problems–and the successes–how can we do better?