Seattle Times for Common Core Standards

The Seattle Times ran an editorial today, Core Academic Standards Bring Promise of Consistent Student Preparation, in which they touted the mythical benefits of national common core standards for K-12 education.

Once again, the Seattle Times got it completely wrong.

Here's a sample:
Imagine if parents could know with certainty what their children are learning and in what grade they need to learn things. The result would be a coherent educational system with the opportunity of education truly equalized.
Well we already had standards here in Washington state, standards which were more clearly written than the common core standards. So parents already could know with certainty what their children were supposed to be learning and what grade they needed to learn things, yet, somehow, mysteriously, it did not result in a utopian coherent educational system in which the opportunity of education was truly equalized. Gee. I guess it takes something more than just setting standards.

How does this sort of stuff get written? Does the Gates Foundation show up with a briefcase full snake oil, go into a little room with Lynne Varner, and pour it all down her throat? Does she come out of the room in a daze and type up these ecstatic ravings before collapsing over her desk? Is the case full of snake oil or is it full of cash? Do they go into a spartan conference room at the Seattle Times or into a private dining room at the Metropolitan Grill?

Is the Seattle Times editorial board completely ignorant of the Washington State Standards? Are they completely unaware of the fact that we have long had the exact tool they claim will bring us to paradise? How could they not ask the obvious question: How will the common core standards succeed where the Washington State Standards failed?

I don't know if they asked the question, but the editorial certainly doesn't answer it.

Here's my advice to the Seattle Times: next time the Gates Foundation wants to come by with their case full of snake oil, get a responsible adult with knowledge of education issues and critical reasoning skills to chaperone you. Honestly, doesn't it just make sense to also listen to an opposing view?


anonymous said…
C'mon Charlie. I totally agree with you on all points, and I absolutely agree that lynn Varner needs to be taken to task on her uninformed comments. She has obviously never taken a look at the SPS EALR's and GLE's. But I find it over the top offensive to say something, even in jest, like Gates got her in a little room and poured snake oil down her throat. If you want your posts to be taken seriously, and I think you do, stick to the facts.

Anonymous said…
Right. What about being "civil"? Are we deleting "uncivil" posts? Is Bill Gates a person deserving civility? Evidently not. Please post a list of all names where no civility is necessary, and how about post the factors included in making that decision.

WenD said…
Anon & Anon: If lying offends you, then I don't think Charlie's commentary is in any way offensive. I'm more offended by BS that passes for authoritae that affects my kids.
Another Anon said…
Actually, I'm more bothered by the implication that Ms. Varner is being paid off to write. That's a very inflammatory and porbably even libelous comment. And of course it's far from civil. But Charlie does what Charlie wants-civility doesn't apply to the blog owners/moderators/chiefs and it never has.
seattle citizen said…
Observer, Bill Gates isn't mentioned in Charlie's post.

I don't think being civil precludes rhetorical flourish. Obviously, Charlie isn't saying that the Gates Foundation actually pours snake oil (or anything) down Ms Varner's throat.

Geez. I guess a body has to sit down to tea, get cozy and intimate, and mildly tut-tut, rather than express any kind of passion around here.

"I say, old bean, the Times has erred slightly in it's opining today, wot? Fine people that they be, their stance seems slightly off-base, do you agree? Wot? I say. More tea?
Anonymous said…
for decades, the banditry and thievery of the $tring pulling classes can't be pointed out, cuz you don't want to be uncivil and then bee ostracized by the string pullers, or their toadies, or those who don't know that the first 2 groups exist and are leading the don't-know-ers around by the nose.

I guess it is like Melissa's b.s. tag - some people get the vapors from non martha stewart pastels, and clearly prefer to stick to getting lied to as long as the colors match.

FOS, he's a writer at a blog. Clearly, he being hyperbolic. If that offends you, okay. But he didn't mean it literally.

I get the feeling people want this to be an information only blog.

It's not and it will never be.

To paraphrase Popeye, we yam what we yam.
Anonymous said…
It's not an "information only" blog -- never was, nor do I expect it to be. But coming on the heels of a post with the title "Words Have Meaning", Charlie's post moves beyond hyperbole and has moved into hypocrisy. So as a blog writer, he gets a pass? And respondents don't? Uh, double standard much?

WV says "eumessi". Indeed.

Anonymous said…
WOW!!! ...
Could someone muster some outrage over the fact that the 2010 legislature wrote a law specifically instructing Randy Dorn to produce a full report on the complete impacts of adopting the Common Core State Standards Initiative on or before JAN 1, 2011.... and ... and ... Mr. Dorn did not perform this task in a timely fashion. He was 30 days late.

Mr. Dorn's report was not submitted until Monday Jan 31, 2011.... This left the pubic and the legislators very little time to analyze the contents of the report as the house education hearing was on Friday February 4, 2011. The 2010 legislature had given Mr. Dorn permission to adopt the common core standards after the 2011 legislature, unless the legislature in 2011 delayed or negated that approval.

His report contained an estimate of CCSSI implementation costs (around $183 million). This was largely an unfunded mandate as $165 million was to come from local school district funds.

On Monday Feb. 7, Rep. Brad Klippert of the house education committee wrote a bill to delay the adoption of the CCSS for two years. This was "dropped" on Tuesday but House Ed Chair Sharon Tamiko Santos refused to schedule a hearing for that bill. The bill needed a hearing within two weeks to meet the deadline for bills.....

Santos's stated reason she would not schedule a hearing for the bill to delay the CCSS was that Klippert's submission of the bill was not timely...

Go figure ... Dorn violates a law specifically written for him ... by being 30 days late..... yet Klippert's bill never gets a hearing because..... he was not timely.

Can anyone muster some outrage?

I see this Seattle School Board election as a referendum on ed reform that is being forced upon us ///... YES FORCED...

Take a look at TfA ... was a joke... the law on limited certificates in this case requires a careful review of all options for closing achievement gaps ...
... yet neither the Board nor OSPI will respond.... Directors Please Tell me the transparency story again ....

Where is my republic?

-- Dan Dempsey

Where is the Times article on what is really happening?

What is really happening is Laws are being ignored and the current board is ignoring laws.... in fact they refuse to communicate.
mirmac1 said…
OMG Charlie, you nailed the snake oil scenario. Excuse me, FOS, but nothing else explains the inanity of these editorials
Charlie Mas said…
You're kidding, right?
Charlie, if we were British, this wouldn't matter. Sarcasm is valued there.
mirmac1 said…
The bully pulpit (aka Times) does not get a pass. Only diff is Charlie can take it. Hellooooo, is that you Lynne...?
Jan said…
Oh dear, I was afraid that the post on civility might lead to this sort of thing.

Charlie -- I enjoyed your post. I found it incisive and funny (in a mildly sarcastic way), and compelling -- and cutting (since it was intended to "sting," I assume that is fine). It also never occurred to me to think that you were being "literal." Lynne Varner's vapid, non-thoughtful postings have been pointed out (to her) often enough that I cannot realistically expect, at this point, that she would sit up and take notice, and actually write critically. It is not reasonable to suggest that a kindly suggestion, by anyone, that she maybe do a better job, that she actually think critically, or do some background research so that she can write critically, and credibly, would have any effect whatsoever.

I agree that it would be nice if we, as commenters, refrain from jumping all over other commenters who disagree with whatever the "general consensus" is. We shouldn't malign people who want to weigh in on the other sides of issues -- because the voices of many of them add valuable discussion points. But if keeping people means limiting posts to informational blurbs about PTSA meetings, and sober little tut-tuts when people in positions of power (like Lynne Varner, who has a column in the only newspaper in town) screw up and let down the citizens of Seattle, then maybe it is too high a price to pay.

(And no, Another Anon -- neither I nor (I think) anyone else who actually knows Charlie would think the references to bags of money would suggest a personal bribe of Lynne Varner -- rather than the overwhelming, greasy, pervasively bad effect of money (and the influence it brings) on people's willingness to stand up to bad government. For what it is worth, I don't think Swift was seriously suggesting the consumption of babies to cure overpopulation either.
seattle citizen said…
"...I don't think Swift was seriously suggesting the consumption of babies to cure overpopulation either."


Oooh, I get it now! It was a barbed attack on British policy!
Whew. All these years I thought...
Anonymous said…
I wouldn't be so sure that this is not about "bags of money", maybe not that they're being delivered currently, though. The tone and content of the editorial has a nice "national agenda" kind of approach...Ms. Varner perhaps would enjoy being seen as "thinker" or "contributor" to the "national debate" on education issues. Perhaps there are future rewards for her for hopping aboard the gravy train.

Charlie Mas said…
I'm sure I have said this before, but I guess it bears repitition.

I have lived in Seattle for about 25 years, since 1986. When I arrived I found the local culture to be almost a perfect fit. I love Seattle and the way people are here.

With two exceptions.

One, folks around here take the "don't blame the victim" rule a little too far. Sometimes people bring ruin upon themselves. Hey, if you try to walk across heavy traffic mid-block on Aurora at 2:30am while dressed in black, you have to bear some of the responsibility for your injuries.

Two, folks here are so freakin' earnest. Seattle is an irony-free zone. Sarcasm, my native language, is held in contempt as mean-spirited. Everything is painfully literal.

So, for those with no ear for rhetoric, I do not actually believe that the Gates Foundation drugs Lynne Varner or pays her or even treats her to fancy lunches. I don't believe that she writes her editorials under the influence of psyco-active chemicals. It is a hyperbolic fiction used to playfully illustrate the possible genesis of the extreme irrationality of her editorials.

Okay? It's like saying "Hey that was really goofy - how many bong hits did you take before you wrote that?"

And, by the way, outside the kindergarten manners enforced within the Seattle playpen, this sort of thing is gentle. It would qualify as playful banter between friends, not scathing jabs between enemies.

Lynne Varner and I have a pretty good relationship based on mutual respect. We don't agree on a number of things, but we both respect each other's process and intentions. She's a grown up who has been outside this nursery and can take a little kidding from someone she knows. She can dish it out as well.

Actually, I think people would be very surprised to know that I get along pretty well with people who get "rough" treatment from me on this blog. They are bright, literate people who understand rhetorical devices like satire and hyperbole, and who can take a joke.

Having a sense of humor means that you laugh when it is YOU who steps on the rake.
Unknown said…
I sure wish Times writers would step on rakes a lot less often. -- Dan D
dan dempsey said…
As Charlie points out what are common core standards going to do that WA State Standards would not?

The problems faced will not have solutions until School Boards choose to examine data and act on it. {{Seattle has plenty of Data, just no courage to admit failures and act.}}

Here are two letters I sent to Director DeBell yesterday.

It shows that Everyday math is NOT doing the Job.

It demonstrates that teaching Algebra to all students in high school, whether the students are prepared or not is a practice that fails to serve far too many students.

In the Past....
I lent examination copies of the Algebra Readiness System to Directors Harium Martin-Morris, and Sherry Carr.

This system is an intervention to teach students the mathematics they should have learned in grades 2 through 7 so that they can be successful in an Algebra Class.

Instead of this offering.... over one third of low income students taking high school algebra at grade 9 scored Well Below Standard = Clueless. Algebra is the lowest level of math taught in many Seattle High Schools..... Why? because the Central Administration under CAO Enfield liked it that way and the Board supported their own lousy choice of "Discovering Algebra" adopted with no math texts or programs below it for high schools.

Now interim Superintendent has done nothing to change this... She and Board President Sundquist continually support what is happening in the SPS in Math.

Look at my two letters to Director DeBell..... Who could support the practices that produced those results? NOT ME.

HERE is what is happening in Seattle High Schools for students that took an Algebra class in 2010-2011.

It is time to do some interventions for struggling students ... the Algebra Readiness System is a year-long intervention. That would be a start in overhauling this expensive math mess.

Reelect NO incumbent school board members in 2011.

Please check the pass rate for Low Income Students and the percentage of Low Income students scoring Well Below Standard at each Seattle High School HERE.
Anonymous said…
First, I want to address a few things directly from the article. It says the effort “was greatly informed by teachers who participated in the nationwide collaboration.” How many teachers were involved and what was the nature of their involvement? Were WA teachers hand picked by OSPI to review drafts the public was not allowed to see? Most teachers were not even aware this effort was taking place.

The ‘increasingly mobile society” has been used as leverage to sway people that common standards across state lines will bring about consistency. For years now, each state under NCLB has had state standards and there is no evidence this resulted in consistency within WA or any other states. Why should we believe the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will bring about such consistency within the state and across state lines? And about that mobility,

Using the data from the table at

I figure only .6% (6/10 of 1%) of 5 to 17 years old moved from different states in a year. Data, evidence, and even common sense have not been important factors to those supporting the CCSS.

Do some reading on your own. Here are some links to some addition information that the decision makers, CCSS promoters, and the media don’t bother with. As a tax payer, parent, or community member you should.

The Common Core $tate $tandards
What Parents, Taxpayers, and School Boards Should Know
…that perhaps they aren’t being told

Truth in American Education Common Core State Standards Content

The CCSS and the related assessments are providing a marvelous profit opportunity for publishers, consultants, and professional development providers as well as many of the individuals involved in developing the CCSS.

The CCSS adoption and implementation comes at great cost. There is a loss of local control and the state gave away legislative authority over some important aspects of education. The taxpayers will pay the cost for implementation and I predict they will be asked to pay more than they have been. Here’s some information about OSPI’s estimation for the cost of implementation.

Where’s the Money?

This does not include the costs related to the assessments. We are told the assessments will save us money. Staying with the ITBS test would have saved us money. There has been no real accounting for what the assessment costs will be. As with the CCSS implementation, the majority of the assessment costs will be at the expense of local school districts. The need for new computer systems and network capacity upgrades are unplanned expenses.

Taxpayers, open your wallets… and your bank accounts.
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.

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