BREAKING: Mathews on results of the Common Core!

MONDAY, JULY 30, 2018

Nobody cares about this:
Has it really been eight years since the Common Core State Standards became "a hot trend?"

So says Jay Mathews in his weekly education column for the Washington Post. Mathews is describing a new report on the way the Common Core has changed, or failed to change, various classroom behaviors.

Mathews is the rarest of all known birds—the long-term education reporter. As we've noted in the past, we share the old school system tie. We went to Aragon, he to our rival school Hillsdale, at the same point in time.

(We had Bob Bazell, the future NBC science reporter. NAME WITHHELD's parents made him go to Serra.)

Mathews reports today on the Common Core, surely knowing that nobody cares. You see, the Common Core isn't The Chase, and that's the sole topic of interest within the fraternal/sororal order we still describe as a "press corps."

The Chase lets the children gossip about an exciting true crime drama; plus, it offers the hope of putting despised people in jail. Public schools affect tens of millions of children, but who give a fig about them? Our pundit corps can;t even focus on what the Trump Admin did at the southern border! They want their tales of The Chase up straight, with no distractions.

Continuing to work in his garden, Mathews starts like this:
MATHEWS (7/30/18): When I try to learn more about schools, I often feel as if I am struggling to get inside a black box—the mysterious classroom. I can get data on what goes into the box, such as the backgrounds of teachers and students. I can measure what comes out of the box—test scores, graduation rates and student work.

But what happens inside the classroom is hard to quantify.

This is particularly true of the major educational reform of this era, the Common Core State Standards.
The project of the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers was designed to use research results to remake K-12 teaching. It recommended more lessons about the real world, more nonfiction reading and writing, and more unified math instruction.

How has this changed what is actually going on in the classroom? The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has given us answers with a survey of 1,237 teachers in fourth through 10th grades: “Reading and Writing Instruction in America’s Schools.”
Jay has been "trying to learn more about schools" for the past many years. We love his basic demeanor because it's so different from ours.

(He was a native Californian. We were shipped in from the east.)

Today, Jay is reporting on a report about the Common Core. In the next few days, we'll try to stare into the face of the total indifference and discuss what he has said.

It has also been two weeks since David Leonhardt's first column in the New York Times about the New Orleans schools. Over the course of the next few days, we'll try to return to what Leonhardt said in spite of the total indifference.

Truthfully, though, nobody cares! That's the ultimate secret about our failing society, and of course about our "press corps" and the rise of Donald J. Trump.


  1. When Somerby says nobody cares, he is surely talking about himself. He expresses surprise about how long Common Core has been in effect, yet Common Core was one of the major differences between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008, one of the things that differentiated their school policies. Charter schools was another. Support for science funding, yet another. But Somerby doesn't seem to know this, despite professing a major interest in education issues.

    I find myself wondering why Somerby hasn't discussed the impact of Common Core on NAEP scores, now that enough time has passed to permit evaluation. Instead, Jay describes a teacher survey, which will give us teacher attitudes but nothing objective about the impact on students. One step better than anecdotal stories of teacher experiences. Since Jay wants qualitative, not quantitative information, this doesn't seem like the right approach to finding out what is actually happening within those classrooms. He might better have spent his time visiting a few and observing. Then perhaps interviewing teachers and students afterwards.

    But the point of today's post is that no one cares. Odd because all parents and all school personnel, and presumably all students, care about what happens to students in schools. That is a sizable hunk of the population, if not of the Washington Post's readership.

    And then we have the cute references to names withheld, the name-dropping. Yuck! It is hard to go to school in California without knowing someone famous in your school days. I went to school with Johnny Crawford (of The Rifleman) and had a friend who dated Ron Howard, and I saw Phil Ochs perform in one of my classes. Jim Morrison, Steve Martin, and Steven Spielberg were all at UCLA when I was there, along with Arthur Ashe and Karim Abdul Jabbar. But none of them have the cachet of NAME WITHHELD (all caps no less)!

    Maybe that kind of thing is dazzling to a young East Coaster, but it is old hat for Californians. Among my personal friends, several became professors but none became standup comedians. Some went to Vietnam, some went to Haight Ashbury, some went to Canada. So what?

  2. Is it OK to call Mathews "Jay" simply because you went to different schools together?

  3. When Somerby says "nobody cares" of course everyone knows he doesn't mean "nobody", just the "press corps", represented by the New York Times and the Washington Post, whose lack of concern is proven, apparently, by publishing articles about the topic that nobody cares about. So, it's just the press corps that doesn't care, except those times when Somerby asserts that "liberals" don't care, which of course doesn't mean all liberals, but rather "liberal elites", unless it's liberals who, unlike Bob Somerby, are not true liberals, but rather psuedoliberals, like the readers of the Times.

  4. "The Chase lets the children gossip about an exciting true crime drama; plus, it offers the hope of putting despised people in jail."

    Talk about creating a narrative: Calling the Mueller probe and other legal cases surrounding Trumpworld a "true crime drama", calling the reporting about it gossip about "The Chase", the reporters "children", characterizing the goal of the probe "putting despised people in jail."...

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