Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson apparently didn’t get the email from the Democratic National Committee warning its mouthpieces to avoid the “political third rail” of Common Core. In the Give Us a Break Department, Richardson has accused parents who object to the grossly deficient national standards for being motivated by hatred toward Hispanics. Don’t ask for an explication of Richardson’s logic, because there is none. Maybe he’s offering an English language arts lesson in the use of the non sequitur.
Richardson preaches that if you like Hispanic children, you must support Common Core, because Hispanic parents want high academic standards. As evidence that Common Core comprises high academic standards, Richardson offers . . . well, nothing. He merely copies and pastes the Common Core talking points that were last revised about five years ago: “[The Common Core] standards equip students with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are essential to success in the 21st century economy.” Critical thinking, problem-solving skills, 21st-century economy — no buzzword left behind.
The problem with his “argument,” of course, is that it has been dismantled molecule by molecule to the point that almost no intellectually honest person, at least one without a graduate degree in education, still makes it. Combine the admission of the Common Core drafters (that it’s designed to prepare students only for non-selective community colleges), with the deadly critiques of the most prominent standards experts in the nation (that it’s a “gigantic fraud” being perpetrated on American families), and there is nothing left of Richardson’s claims.
Richardson also is apparently unaware of the assessment data that refute his embrace of Common Core. Since the national standards have been fully implemented, scores on the “nation’s report card” (the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP) have flatlined or even declined. Measures of college-readiness have also declined.
Even more devastating to Richardson’s argument are data from Kentucky — the first state to implement Common Core — that the achievement gap between white and minority students has actually grown under the national standards. So the evidence suggests that the standards and their aligned education model may hurt minority students, not help them. These are the standards that Bill Richardson defends as the only way to improve academic achievement of Hispanic students?
One can only speculate why a prominent politician would put his name on an article that is so manifestly refutable. Obviously he doesn’t know the subject matter, but it seems to go beyond that. Perhaps because leftists have enjoyed such success over the last few decades by crying “racism” as a response to any position they oppose, that accusation has become a reflex. You don’t like our centralization and dumbing down of public education? Then you must be a racist. Case closed.
But it just doesn’t work this time. Too many Americans are too educated about Common Core and the damage it’s doing. And Richardson’s blind adherence to a policy that actually hurts the students he supposedly defends is shameful. Hispanic students need a different champion — one who accepts reality and puts their needs above his ideology.
Jane Robbins is an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principles Project.