Fringe or Freedom?

The media is working hard to write the narrative that those who oppose Common Core are “fringe.”

Jack Lessenberry chimes in with this headline, “The lunatic fringe opposes Common Core.:”

America always has had strange outliers on the margins of our politics, from half-secret movements like the Know-Nothings to the left-wing crazies of the late 1960s. My eighth grade teacher referred to those on the farther shores of our politics as the “lunatic fringe.”

The Detroit Free Press Editors keep it going with the “Editorial: Indulging the fringe on the Common Core while Michigan’s students fall behind.

Wow.  Simply having PUBLIC hearings to decide what is in the best interest of Michigan is “indulging the fringe.”   These hearings should have been held three years ago but never happened because state education officials rushed to adopt the Common Core.

The Common Core final draft was released on June 2, 2010. Michigan adopted the standards on June 15, 2010. State officials  deliberated a mere 13 days before deciding that Common Core final draft would officially become the new state standard.  Now, three years later, lawmakers decide to hold hearings on what was never publicly vetted and it is called “fringe.”  That’s a weak argument from those who’d rather discredit others than defend their ideas.

Proponents like state Superintendent Flanagan will tell you they received hundreds of comments leading up the decision but where are those comments? I was around in 2010 and when I tried to leave comments the site kept crashing.     More importantly, experts on the validation committee refused to sign off on the new standards.    Shouldn’t Michigan have investigated in 2010 why they did not validate the standards?   Their comments should give us all a reason to reconsider.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a member of the CC Validation Committee who refused to sign off on CC, stated, “I kept asking for information on the research base for the English Language Arts standards that were being developed… and I couldn’t get any information at all. There was no evidence from any kind of research that a stress on informational reading and writing would prepare students better for college level work than an emphasis on… complex literary texts.”

Ze’ev Wurman, a member of the Common Core Validation Committee said, “In terms of college readiness, its content is far below what is presently expected for college eligibility, which will create unreasonable expectations by parents and pressure on state universities to admit underprepared students.”

Dr. James Milgram, one of the members of the  validation committee, and the only content expert in mathematics said, “there are a number of extremely serious failings in Core Standards that make it premature for any state with serious hopes for improving the quality of the mathematical education of their children to adopt them.”

Dr. Jason Zimba, one of the creators of Common Core, admits Common Core defines “college-readiness” as ready for a nonselective community college, not a four-year university.

Are they part of the “lunatic fringe?”   Are we supposed to ignore them and trust Mr. Flanagan and his belief that Common Core will solve the state’s education woes.    Commenting at the Detroit Free Press Pasquale Battaglia said it well,

“I was at this hearing. Let me see if I understand what I heard. The VERY SAME people, Flanagan and his team, who have been LEADING the failure and demise of the MI public school system, asserted that they were a major player in the development of Common Core! So now we are asked to trust that their UNILATERAL decision to implement CC is wise?…..”

Holding hearings seem like a reasonable step to make sure that adopting the Common Core is the best decision for Michigan.  Sorry if the scrutiny is bothersome to Mr. Flanagan, Jack Lessenberry,  the editors at the Detroit Free Press, or anyone else; but that’s the way free societies work.   No one gets unilateral decision making power.    In America we have checks and balances.  We hold hearings and hold our state officials accountable for the decisions they make.

That’s not fringe but freedom hard at work.