An Interview with Joy Pullman: Concerns About Common Core

Mar 7, 2013 by


Joy Pullman

Joy Pullman

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1. Joy, you are with the Heartland Institute. What are you trying to accomplish?

I think Heartland’s mission statement says it best: We research and promote ways to empower people.

2.Now , “ Common Core “ seems to be on everyone’s mind- what is your opinion, or feelings or thoughts about this “ Common Core “ agenda?

I think the Common Core is a well-intentioned effort, but ultimately likely to harm schools, teachers, parents, and children.

3. I am a bit perplexed as to how Common Core will be applied to students with Special Needs. For example, what about a student who is blind? How will he or she learn the “ common core “ and how will they be assessed?

I believe there are guidelines about how to apply Common Core to students who have special learning needs, but I have not read them so can’t comment about them. Same answer to the questions below ( about children who are autistic, or who have intellectual disability ), except here’s an interesting report in The Atlantic about how emphasizing sociability rather than actual learning, hurts autistic kids. That social, group-work approach is emphasized in Common Core.

4) On the other end of the spectrum- does the Common Core really challenge gifted students, or talented or creative students?

It appears not. I’ve had some correspondence with the best public schools with the country and they tell me their students can complete Common Core by ninth grade. And those aren’t even schools for gifted students, so I would imagine the gap grows even greater for them.

5) Who exactly developed this Common Core and are they teachers in the classroom or paper pushing administrators?

The Common Core was written primarily by four people who are not K-12 teachers. Several teachers and professors were on committees that reviewed the Core, but no one knows what “review” means: Did they submit critiques, and how extensively? What were they? Did the Core change in response, and how? These sorts of things are part and parcel of a normal government regulatory review, but entirely absent from Common Core.

Proponents like to say that the Core was “state-led,” but don’t explain what that means. What state officials decided what in regards to the Core, and when? Nobody knows. What we do know is that nonprofits sponsored by the federal government, private companies, and several big foundations paid for the Core to be written and all the meetings preceding that action. This is essentially the product of a big bureaucrat powwow.

6) What have I neglected to ask?

One of the important stories about the Common Core that few people are asking is to what extent the companies who sponsored its development benefit from its existence and spread. Companies like Pearson and Microsoft stand to gain millions in contracts for Common Core-related programs.

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