The Advocate Swings And Misses At Geymann On The Common Core Issue

Those of you who know me well or have heard my pontifications on social media know that I can’t stand the Common Core issue. If you’ll look at the recent Hayride posts on the issue since he came aboard you might notice that I saddled John Binder with most of the Common Core stuff so I don’t have to cover it. Every once in a while I have no choice and I’ll crank something out on the subject, like when RedState asked me to write something about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to throw the PARCC testing overboard, but given the amount of controversy over the issue I do what I can to shut up about it.

Why? Because I have no position on Common Core. As far as I’m concerned you can have Common Core or not have Common Core and it doesn’t make a difference.

The idea of putting standards in place in an effort to get public-school kids to learn math doesn’t strike me as so bad, so when the business community, who is desperate to find young workers who can do math, supports Common Core as a grasping at straws I can’t argue too much with them. I think that’s a perfectly reasonable position that I can’t blame them for.

And I’m not persuaded by the anti-Common Core arguments which say that (1) the feds are going to take over education if you do Common Core and (2) Common Core will bring in all these weird, socialist curricula. Neither one of those arguments do anything for me, because (1) the feds already do control education thanks to the funding they provide to schools all over the country and (2) those weird, socialist curricula have been in place for a good while without any help from Common Core.

That said, anybody who thinks Common Core is going to actually improve public education is dreaming. Sure, the standards might be higher – that only means the kids in crappy schools will meet them less often. And while that might be information folks would like to know, it’s not particularly new information. We know which schools are OK and which schools suck from the current standards and standardized tests the kids take.

At the end of the day, this is another exercise in rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. You might think you’ve got it just right this time, but the ship is going down regardless.

As I told a Common Core supporter friend of mine recently, all I care about where education is concerned is I want a universal voucher/refundable tax credit for educational expenses that people can use on whatever method of instruction they choose. If that’s to support homeschooling, fine. If it’s to hire a private tutor, or maybe a semi-private tutor (it seems to me that the 21st century educational model that’s destined to emerge is for really good teachers to hang up a shingle and have a dozen or so kids of various ages come in for personalized instruction leveraging technology to learn at the fastest pace possible), or a Montessori school, private school, public school…whatever. I want a wide-open free market in education like there is with cell phones. And I notice that there isn’t just one standard of what a cell phone is; there are iPhones and there are androids, and the consumers get to decide what they like best, and every year there’s a major advance that revolutionizes the market and – here it comes – enhances the standard of performance people expect.

So I’m the alien from Alpha Centauri looking down on you silly earthlings as you squabble about your deck chairs.

All that said, I will jump in when there’s BS being spread. And for that, we can count on the editorial staff at the Baton Rouge Advocate – which knows one thing and one thing only, and that is whatever Bobby Jindal is for must be bad, and whatever Jindal is against must be good.

Ergo, Common Core, which was suspicious when Jindal was OK with it as part of his education reform package…is now A-OK. That’s the subject of an editorial that shows up today bashing Jindal and 17 state legislators who have filed a suit saying the Administrative Procedures Act was violated when the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education took steps to implement Common Core. That’s some awfully dry material to wade through, so we won’t delve into it too deeply and we’ll therefore skip to the good part when they begin bashing Rep. Brett Geymann for leading the charge in the legislature against Common Core…

But if the suit does go to trial, it will do more than entertain — if that is quite the word — listeners with discussions of the dry language of the Administrative Procedures Act.

What will be entertaining is for the defendants to list in elaborate detail the years, in fact more than a decade, in which not a word was heard from Jindal, Geymann or others about the administrative deficiencies of test procurement. In fact, the record will show that just a few years ago not only was Jindal an enthusiast for Common Core itself, but Jindal’s administration — and the lawmakers like Geymann who backed earlier Jindal education bills in lockstep — found no problems with the purchasing of tests and adoption of higher standards.

All the stuff that the Louisiana Constitution says BESE and the state department should do, by the way.

If Jindal and Geymann and others want to now allege a failure to follow the Administrative Procedures Act, they are indicting their own negligence in office.

Case closed, we think.

Yeah, well, here was Geymann’s response to that…

This is a pitiful job of research and journalism. Anyone who follows politics at all knows I was a critic of Common Core from the beginning and I did not support the Jindal Education Reform.

True dat. And we beat Geymann up about his opposition, particularly to the voucher program and course choice, at the time. You would think that the editors of the newspaper in the state capitol would remember who was for that reform package and who wasn’t, rather than to just blurt out “Jindal bad! Those with Jindal bad!” like we just saw.

If you’re for Common Core you can make an argument against this lawsuit that doesn’t suck. You could decry the disruption that ripping all the Common Core stuff out of the state’s public schools without knowing what to replace it with is going to leave the ship without a rudder. You could say that this is about the adults rather than the kids and Geymann and his crowd obviously don’t care where kids learn math in public schools. You could say Jindal and his (sometimes-newfound) allies are bowing to hysteria and wrecking public education in the process. I don’t know that I’d agree with any of that, but it’s at least enough to start a discussion.

But when you don’t even know what Geymann was for or against two years ago, there isn’t much of anything you can say about him that has any value. Ignorance isn’t bliss in journalism, guys.

That’s what we have on the editorial page of the Advocate.

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