Former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, a staunch defender of Common Core standards, admitted on Fox News Sunday that while the federal government did not create this educational system, it has “put its big foot” all over it.
The self-proclaimed conservative said that federal government has made a “mistake” by misusing money to encourage states to adopt Common Core standards. However, he said, that’s where the government meddling ends:
The government put its big foot on this and said, if you want government money, federal money, Race to the Top money — as it was called then — this would be a very good, or smart thing, for you to do, Common Core. From there it went to the notion that the federal government was dictating it.
Host Chris Wallace asked for clarification: “Is the federal government dictating it?”
Bennett responded with a stern, “No, it isn’t.” He went on to assure that legislation has been enacted to specifically prohibit the federal government from involvement with Common Core and claimed that any voices raised against Common Core are just spreading myths.
Bennett said, “One is rightly suspicious of this administration getting into matters that’s none of its business,” adding, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
“Nevertheless,” Bennett continued, “these standards were developed locally, they are administered locally.”
Debating Bennett on the program was Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott who said the governor’s who initially signed on to adopt Common Core are now going through a sort of “buyer’s remorse.” Yet Bennett named the governor’s of Iowa, Ohio and North Carolina saying they are very pleased with the standards.
Abbott further argued that the federal government is using its purse to actively take away the standards from the hands of states by creating national standards instead.
Breaking from his earlier pronouncement of local-only administration, Bennett explained that there is good reason for setting national standards:
There’s a reason we had to do this, Chris. When states were reporting their own numbers in Math and English — I saw this when I was secretary — we had this Lake Wobegon effect: 85 percent of the students were proficient in Math and English. Then when you took the national assessment of educational progress test — students in that state — turned out [only] 40 percent were proficient. You have to have some kind of independent assessment, some kind of benchmark standards, in order to see how our kids are doing.
In Texas, state legislators banned the use of Common Core in its classrooms even though its fingerprints are found in two-thirds of its chosen curriculum. Currently, the state of Texas only received an overall grade of C-minus and ranks 39th among the 50 states. Abbott said that he will improve his state’s grade in education by going from the bottom up, locally, and not from the top, from the federal government down.
During a heated moment in the debate Bennett, insisting that Common Core curriculum is set locally, argued against Abbott saying, “You’ve got local control. You decided that Common Core wouldn’t be in Texas, so it’s not in Texas. And Texas can teach math any way it wants, but what Texas can’t do is change the nature of mathematics and what mathematical reasoning, and mathematical sequence becomes.”
Abbot then told viewers to head to Google and plug in “9+6 Common Core” and watch the video result for proof of how math is being taught under Common Core. It takes almost a minute for the teacher in the video to explain that 9+6=15, using a base 10 system. Although admitting to not having seen the video in question, Bennett denied that it has anything to do with Common Core teaching saying, “If it’s crazy, it probably isn’t Common Core, it’s probably one of these myths that’s developed.”
To further debunk these so-called myths, Bennett pointed the audience to download the standards for themselves before jumping to any conclusions on Common Core’s merits. “They are public and anyone can examine those standards,” Bennett said.
Bennett doubled down: “You tell me what’s wrong with saying kids should learn how to parse and diagram sentences, memorize, read the Declaration of Independence. That’s what I want to know — what’s wrong with it?”
Getting the final word, Gov. Abbott cited a Stanford professor who deemed the mathematics portion of Common Core as something that will set students back rather than propel them forward in the field. Abbott said, “The more we learn about Common Core, the more problematic it is.”