Whither Rage? A New York Times Op-Ed with the Wrong Title

David Kirp’s recent op-ed in the New York Times is titled Rage Against the Common Core. But in reality the piece itself is barely a whimper against the standards. In fact, Kirp calls the Common Core State Standards—adopted now by more than 40 states—“a good thing.” RELATED: See our factual corrections of Kirp’s piece on our Red Pen Page. So why the rage? In Kirp’s view, the real target is accountability and “high-stakes testing.” And he blames the Obama administration’s policy priorities for fostering it. But the reality is that the federal requirements on standardized testing have not changed since the No Child Left Behind Act was adopted back in 2001. It’s true testing levels have increased, but as the Center for American Progress recently showed, that has been driven at the state and district level, not by the federal government. Kirp is correct in saying that the Obama administration has placed a premium on accountability and its role in protecting our nation’s most vulnerable students. At stake is nothing less than the education of our children. We should set our sights high. We should expect a lot. And we should hold ourselves accountable for doing right by all of our kids. After all, what good are high standards if you’re not holding yourself to them? In the end, Kirp’s op-ed only perpetuates the myths, partisan politics, and conflating rhetoric that distracts us all from focusing on the work at hand—such as improvements and midcourse corrections in local implementation of new standards, curricula, and assessments. For all of the concerns and “rage” Kirp identifies, he ignores the policy and implementation solutions already in action on the ground.
Ann Whalen
Ann Whalen is senior advisor to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Prior to returning to the U.S. Department of Education, she served as the director of policy for Education Post. Whalen has served more than five years in the Obama Administration with the U.S. Department of Education. At the department, Ann was director of the Implementation and Support Unit, providing technical assistance to ...

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