Common Core Served for Brunch on ‘CBS Sunday Morning’

By Mark Walsh — September 22, 2014 2 min read
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“CBS Sunday Morning” did its lead story yesterday on the debate over the Common Core State Standards.

That’s nice, and the show is an underappreciated gem and pleasant to watch if you’re having your Sunday brunch at home. But the show is also kind of a junior-varsity version of CBS News’ flagship “60 Minutes.” (If you’re a celebrity and you’re being profiled on “Sunday Morning,” as opposed to “60 Minutes,” your career is most likely in its autumn years.)

I would think that the intensifying debate over the common core might be worth a segment on “60 Minutes,” the top rated network news magazine show, which had its season debut Sunday night. And it yet may happen, though there seems to rarely be such repetition between the two shows.

The “Sunday Morning” piece by political reporter Jan Crawford was serviceable, but no game-changer. She lead off with a visit to a classroom in the Hillsborough County, Fla., school district, where the students are engaged in cooperative learning based on the standards that are now known in that state as the “Florida standards.”

“Common core raises the bar for student performance,” Hillsborough Superintendent MaryEllen Elia tells Crawford. “We have to challenge them in ways that have them interact more in learning.”

Elia is shown at a public meeting facing common-core opponents, including one who says, “We don’t like the gyrations in math.”

Crawford visits suburban New York City principal Carol Burris (a progressive opponent of the common core who debated the standards recently on the public radio show “Intelligence Squared”). “There’s nothing wrong with having standards,” Burris tells her. “There should be state standards. But they’ve got to be good standards, and they have to be realistic standards. These are neither.”

The pair looked at one of the seemingly illogical math word problems inspired by the common core.

Crawford spends some time with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (on his recent back-to-school bus tour), and rehashes the controversy over his comment last year that “white suburban moms” are at the center of opposition to the common-core standards because they show “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought.”

Duncan tells Crawford that it was “one sentence I didn’t say perfectly, and I apologized for that. But for me the goal, again, is to have high standards for everyone.”

Burris tells Crawford the demise of the common core is “inevitable,” while Elia says the standards will survive because parents want them.

If the debate is still swirling a year from now, we may finally see a piece on “60 Minutes.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.