Student Achievement Partners co-founder Jason Zimba sat down the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Executive Vice President Michael Petrilli recently to promote Common Core, the Obama Administration’s education initiative.
Zimba immediately defended Common Core’s “fuzzy math” curriculum and claimed that they are trying to enhance learning through three main academic goals: focus, coherence and rigor. The bigger issue, Zimba said, was that other countries teach the step-by-step methods for academic learning in math and reading but with more depth than American educators.
Common Core opponents based their arguments on misconceptions and misperceptions, Zimba alleged. He felt that Common Core benefitted Americans because it put the focus of the curriculum on the local level and noted how “different states have done it differently” in implementing Common Core standards. But, he constantly cited the state of Massachusetts as an example of the program’s success. He insisted that Common Core allows for “flexibility” and that the accusations against the writing standards do not “alter the underlying facts of the human variable,” or rather, educators cannot possibly write standards for human nature.
Zimba actually said that gifted and successful students are an “extreme segment of the population” and if Common Core lowers standards, these students will have to deal with it. He tried to recover from that statement and said it was “not an argument to cut back services to gifted students,” but was the reality on the ground. He then used an analogy of a doctor examining a patient’s ear and compared it to education. Students have to submit to their educators for the common good, according to Zimba. Common Core was, in Zimba’s words, “pro-academic.”
Yet and still, Zimba went on to say that Common Core “standards were not just to raise the bar; they were to raise achievement.” He suggested academics could help grade textbooks and hammer out which ones would be best for students, but his standard for grading criteria was very subjective. He failed to recognize, or at least mention, how standardization is meant to ensure objectivity. But, under his interpretation of Common Core, it is anything but objective.
Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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