To the Editor:
Any time I see a title as provocative as “Will We Ever Learn?” (Commentary, April 21, 2010) in an education periodical, it usually means the authors have been marginalized or otherwise uninvolved in the initiative, process, or reform they are trashing. It happens all the time with college professors who criticize school textbook publishers and their products: They could “right things” if only the “vendor” would contract with them for big bucks to write “correct” (that is, unedited) books.
In their Commentary, Robert I. Lerman and Arnold Packer are guilty of the same transgression—instead of focusing on the Common Core State Standards Initiative’s many justifications for its existence, they nitpick around the edges and imply that they could do it better.
Nothing short of a total federal takeover can solve public education’s worst problems—agitating, contrarian, and waffling academics with little content-area expertise; obstructionist unions; abysmal student achievement; teacher incompetence; and many others—and that’s not going to happen in this highly politicized U.S. “democracy.”
A version of this article appeared in the May 12, 2010 edition of Education Week as Could a Federal Takeover Save Public Education?