Marc Tucker Flatters NHTPC

Marc Tucker mentioned us by name. We’re flattered! We think he doth protest too much? He has friends that are Republicans! Imagine that?

Thanks to one of our GREAT and active groups, NH Families for Education, for the transcript:

Thanks to for the video.

Then we have the panel discussion. We wonder, what expertise in education does the CEO of an insurance company hold? Very little, yet he’s the Chairman of the illegal ‘STATE’ Board of Education. It’s a crony appointee position of course… remember when former Chair John Lyons wanted to institute the left wing ONE campaign as part of the curriculum in all NH schools?

Common Core supporter Marc Tucker sets up a straw man and then knocks it down. Little content; much hype, right from the “hysterical” start. Enjoy.

Remarks to the New Hampshire State Legislature

October 2013

Marc Tucker, President
National Center on Education and the Economy

These are hysterical times. My visit to New Hampshire to talk about the Common Core State Standards was heralded by the New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition in an article that describes me as a Socialist, an advocate for federal control of education in the United States, an evangelist for Outcomes-Based-Education, a believer that the UN content standards should be imposed on the United States. Indeed, it is said that I actually met once with David Rockefeller, Jr., who is described as probably the most evil globalist in the world, and perhaps worst of all, that I am a friend of Hillary. Most telling, I am a Constitution-buster.

The truth is much less exciting. I am not a Socialist but a life-long Democrat with a deep belief in capitalism who has many friends who are prominent Republicans. I have written extensively decrying increasing federal control of education as unconstitutional and advocating greater state authority in education. Far from an advocate of Outcomes-Based-Education, I have consistently opposed it. There are no United Nations content standards for education, so I could not have supported them. I have met with David Rockefeller and with Hillary Clinton, both of whom have been friends and board members of my organization. The same can be said of Senator Bill Brock, who chaired the Republican Party when Ronald Reagan ran successfully for President and who served in two important positions in Reagan’s cabinet. John Engler, the former Republican Governor of Michigan who went on to head up the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable, is also a friend.

I’d like, if I may, to set the hysteria aside for a moment and talk with you about where these standards came from and why they are so important for New Hampshire.

The United States led the world in education for at least a century. In the nineteenth century, it was way ahead in extending the right to a free elementary school education to all its citizens. At the turn of the last century it was way ahead in offering a high school education to all who wanted one. After World War II, it jumped far ahead in sending its young people to college. The result was the best educated workforce in the world, by a country mile, for the next twenty years. Many economists think that this record in education made us the richest country in the world in the 60s and 70s and into the 80s, and also contributed greatly to the fact that, forty years ago, we had not only the highest income, but also the most evenly distributed income of any industrialized country.

And then it all fell apart. From the 70’s on, all this growth in access to education and in the quality of education stopped, dead in the water. The only thing that has grown from then on has been the cost of education, which has more than doubled, at all levels, after accounting for inflation.

The 80s was a time of enormous change in the global economy. At the end of that decade, manufacturing wages in South Korea were one tenth of what they were in the United States. But manufacturing wages in mainland China were one one-hundredth of what they were in the United States. Unskilled and semi-skilled jobs started to move to East Asia from the developed countries, first in a trickle, then in a full-fledged flood. By the end of the 1990s, it was clear to many of us that high skilled jobs were also moving to China and India, because both countries were able to produce increasingly large numbers of highly skilled and educated workers who were, like the less-skilled workers, happy to work for much less than equivalently skilled Americans. Economists were beginning to ask why the world’s employers should pay Americans far more than their competitors in Asia, for the same skills. There was no good answer to that question.

But for every job that was lost to Asian workers, ten jobs were being lost to automation. Many of those jobs were low-wage, low skill jobs, but many were high skill, high pay jobs. The common element was that they all involved routine work. If the work was routine, it could be reduced to an algorithm. If it could be reduced to an algorithm, it could be automated.

The gathering forces were producing increased numbers of Americans, who used to have good middle class jobs, but were now either working at the 7/11 or Walmart at far lower wages or not working at all. Their jobs were being destroyed by low-wage competition from Asia or by increasingly inexpensive automated equipment.

A very clear picture was emerging from all this for the highly developed, high wage countries. The future would be increasingly bleak for those without high skills. But high skills by themselves would not be enough. I f those jobs involved routing work, they could be automated. The jobs that would survive would go to those who were not only highly educated, but highly flexible. Those who would be in the best position would be those who were most creative, the most innovative, the best communicators, the best at working in groups in which one was a leader at one moment and a follower at another. The workers who survived would be the workers that could offer their services to many employers at once, often in different roles, acting as self-employed contingent workers or as entrepreneurs. Flexibility would be the watchword, creativity the byword. Learning-to-learn would have to become much more than a slogan. Education – a very demanding kind of education – would be far more necessary to economic survival than ever before.

Other countries had seen this coming before we did. From the 70s and 80s on they did what was necessary to educate not just an elite, but nearly everyone, to a standard that they had only educated an elite to before. Those were the countries that were beating the pants off us, the countries my organization has been studying for the last 25 years. In every single case, they started by setting high standards. Before they set their own standards, they looked at their competitors, and then set their own standards in the light of what they found. They de-emphasized rote memory and learning of simple procedures and put in their place standards that stressed real understanding of the subjects they required their students to study. They made sure that their standards and their curricula had a certain logic, so that what a student studied in any given year was what was needed for the more advanced studies to be undertaken by their students in the following year. In almost every case, the standards they produced were national standards, produced in some cases by the national government, in others by their states and provinces working together. These top performers knew that no tool in their toolkit would be more essential for economic success in the globalized era than setting high, clear standards for all their students. National standards for student achievement is not a socialist plot. It is not Anti-American. It is a common-sense policy measure that has been under taken by countries with political systems as different as Singapore and Finland, Australia and Germany.

Nothing these top-performing countries could have done would have done more to dramatically raise the expectation s among teachers, parents and the community at large for their children. They made sure that the skills and knowledge they would demand from their students would be sufficient to enable those students to look forward to a rewarding and productive future in a world in which low skills and routine skills would no longer be anywhere near enough. They understood the realism of the old saw that, if teachers everywhere teach to the test and teachers would try to put together a curriculum that would make their students successful on the tests, so they wanted to be clear about what the tests needed to test, because they would otherwise never achieve their aims.

Many of our top competitors were well down this road in 1990. The United States was far behind. This has never been a partisan matter. President George H.W. Bush got the ball rolling when, in 1989; he called the first ever meeting of the governors with the president to talk about education goals. It was the first President Bush, a Republican, who asked his Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander, the former Republican Governor of Tennessee, to put the first money on the table to develop student performance standards. Many Democrats expected President But’s successor, Bill Clinton, to reverse this policy when he took office. Instead, he proposed the Goals 2000 Act, which included a provision requiring the states to develop their own standards, but, frustrated in that goal by the Congress, he settled for making sure that the National Assessment of Educational Progress would produce a report on every state’s students against the frameworks developed by NAEP and report those scores to the public.

The critics of the Common Core would have you believe that the Common Core was produced by the Obama Administration. Not true. Not even close. The truth is much more interesting. Governors of both parties were growing more and more frustrated. They were being held increasingly accountable by their constituents for economic development. But the companies they were trying to recruit were telling them that they would not come unless the governor could convince them that the quality of education in the state would radically improve. Many of these companies were very much aware of the accomplishments in education of our best competitions and could easily build new plants and relocate old ones in those countries. The governors began to clamor to clamor for higher standards in the United States, and, if possible, uniform standards. They turned to their own association to get that job done.

At the same time, the average state scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress were beginning to come out. It turned out that the states with the highest scores on their own state assessments often had the lowest average state scores on the NAEP common assessment. State commissioners from the lower-performing states went to their association, and said, in effect, I cannot get the support I need to raise the standards in my state by myself. If the association will do that, then I will be able to get my state to sign up for the standards we create as an association.

The Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation provided the money to the two associations to work together to get the job done. The money did not come from the federal government, nor was the federal government involved in any way in deciding what the standards were going to be. All of this got started before Barack Obama was elected president.

The drive to much higher standards and a different kind of standards is not unique to the United States. It is a worldwide movement among the most developed countries. Indeed, the United States is very late to the game. While the federal government offered to help to states that wanted to adopt the standards, these are not federal standards. They were developed by the states, working together. Almost all the experts who have looked at these standards think they can hold their own against the best standards anywhere in the world. More important, they are the right kind of standards for a nation that must now provide to all its students a kind and quality of education that is has only provided to a small elite before. These standards are the best chance we have of being competitive – in a fiercely competitive global economy.

So why are they being so savagely attacked?

The Common Core standards are supported by Barack Obama and Jeb Bush, by prominent Democratic governors and prominent Republican governors, by the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce, by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Those of you who follow the politics of American education will read this list and see that it includes bitter opponents of one another, people who can agree on little else. It is not a partisan matter. It does not divide management and labor. Nor is it a regional matter. So what is it?

I will in a moment share with you a list of the most repeated criticisms of the Common Core State Standards along with my responses to them. In my opinion, this is not so much a list of the things that concern the opponents as a list of things they think they can say that will get them adherents who will work with them to defeat the Common Core. What really seems to unite those who lead the opposition is their very strong antipathy to government at any level, but most especially to the federal government. They appear to be willing to say anything, whether or not it is true, to fight off what they seem to think is a clear and present danger to their freedoms as citizens of the United States. This is hardly surprising. This is a thread in the national political fabric that has been with us since the founding of our country. Let me share the specifics of the charges with you:

The Common Core was created by the Obama administration and really represents federal standards, not state standards. As I pointed out above, the developments that led to the Common Core began long before President Obama took office. It was overseen by the Council of Chief State School Officers and National Governors Association and largely funded by the Gates Foundation. The Obama administration clearly thought that the Common Core was a good idea and unabashedly supported it, but that happened after the Common Core effort had been formed and was producing standards. They were Johnny-Come-Latelies, and not involved in the production of the standards in any way.

The Common Core is the first step on the way to a nationalized education system. Nonsense. I know of no one who is advocating for a nationalized education system, directed by a strong national ministry of education. Germany, which has a constitution that expressly rejects any role for the federal government in education beyond education research and statistics, nonetheless has a strong set of national standards for student academic performance, put together by the Lander, their states. Australia has a strong set of national standards, but their states retain the upper hand in education policy for their schools. As long as our national government puts in around 10 percent of the total cost of elementary and secondary education, there is no danger of a federal takeover of our schools, and I do not see that changing. And then there is our Constitution, which reserves decisions about education policy to the states. Not much room there for a federal takeover of our education system.

The Common Core is unconstitutional and a threat to individual freedoms. Unconstitutional, presumably, because, as I just said, education is a government function reserved to the states. But the Constitution did not prohibit an agreement among the states to agree on standards that they could adopt in common. Nothing unconstitutional about that. Any standards, from any origin, are a threat to the individual freedoms of those to whom they apply. Standards for practice in engineering and medicine limit what an engineer can design and what a surgeon can do. We have such standards because they are in the public interest. Parents who want to home-school their children are instinctively leery of any standards that might infringe on their freedom to teach anything they wan tot any child at any time. The same can be said of many teachers. But, as I pointed out above, without such standards, our schools will fall further and further behind the countries that are using higher standards to advance their education system and move their students to higher achievement.

The Common Core is unproven. There is no such thing as a proven standard. A standard is by definition an aspiration. In this case, it is what a society wants for its children. You cannot prove that a standard is right or wrong; that is works or does not work. You can either embrace a standard or choose not to do so.

A well-known mathematician, who was a member of the Validation Committee for the Common Core, has denounced the math standards as too low in relation to the standards set by other countries; this proves that the standards are dumbed down. They are not only lower than the standards of other countries, but also the standards of Massachusetts, Indiana, Texas, Minnesota, and California. It is true that James Milgram was a member of the Validation Committee and that he believes the standards are too low. What the critics fail to mention is that, in addition to Milgram, there were mathematicians on the committee from Penn State, the University of Michigan, Macalaster College, Illinois State, Yale University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Arizona State University, California Polytechnic, Michigan State University, The University of Texas at Austin and Johns Hopkins University who did not agree with Milgram. In fact, no mathematician involved in producing or formally reviewing the standards agrees with Milgram. The critics will also fail to tell you that virtually every national professional society of mathematicians and scientists have voted to support the Common Core State Standards. In short, an overwhelming majority of mathematicians support the Common Core State Standards and disagree with Milgram. Massachusetts was for a long time viewed by many, especially the leading critics of the Common Core, as having the best standards in the country. When the current Commissioner of Education in Massachusetts took office, he commissioned two leading education research organizations to undertake studies comparing the Massachusetts state standards to the Common Core. Both reported that the Common Core standards are at least as high, if not higher, than the Massachusetts standards. Massachusetts decided to abandon its own standards and adopt the Common Core.

The Common Core standards require teachers to abandon the teaching of great American literature. The critics know this is not true, but they know it is sure to get a rise out of the public. The authors of the Common Core noted that high school graduates often have a hard time reading the sort of non-fiction that they have to be able to read in college or at work, from the Chilton’s Auto Repair Manual to a science textbook, so they set standards for that sort of reading. The critics behave as if reading is a zero sum game, as if the more such reading a student does, the fewer classic novels that student will read. But that, of course, is not true. No one called on the high school English teacher to replace One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with Chilton’s Auto Repair Manual. The auto repair shop teacher should be making sure that the auto repair student can read that manual and the science teacher should make sure that the science student can read the assigned text. No one is calling for fewer classics of American or English literature to be taught in the literature class.

The politics of the Common Core are summed up in a confrontation that appeared in the National Review, a standard-bearer for American conservatives, and Glenn Beck, in which the National Review offers arguments for the Common Core and Beck relentlessly attacks the National Review. The apolgee of Beck’s attack comes when he charges that the Common Core is the launch pad for a massive attack on the privacy of Americans by the federal government, that it will operate an Orwellian systems of massive data gathering on every aspect of every student’s life and thoughts. There is no basis in fact for this charge. The Common Core is not owned or operated by the federal government.

This is no time to abandon the Common Core or to slow it down. I told you earlier that we are now far behind a growing list of countries that are providing a better education for a larger fraction of their students than we are to ours. If there is something to be alarmed about, it is not the Common Core but the consequences of our failure to adopt it. If you want the United States to recover its predominant position among the countries in the world in the field of education, there is no more important step you can take than being clear about the high standards you want for your children and there is no better way to do that than to endorse the Common Core State Standards. Thank you.

What can we say except this would be all well and good if his words were not one big colossal lie… for these are not ‘standards’ they are a clear method of infusing a twisted political agenda into our childrens’ brains…. and it is very important to the Marc Tuckers of the world that our children are indoctrinated, while instilling fear in parents that if they don’t follow this unqualified hack’s advice, their children will not compete in the world. Don’t believe it.

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