Chris Collins Propaganda Call on Line 1

Maybe he just hates everything “common”

My Congressman was desperately interested in hearing my input about education and the Common Core standards that are slowly being transformed from an initiative to improve and enhance education and student expectations for the 21st century into a communard bete noir. Because Common Core was implemented during the Obama Presidency, Collins is automatically against it. Because many people are concerned about its testing protocols, Collins is interjecting himself into an issue about which he has never spoken before, and about which his ignorance is palpable.

Why was Common Core implemented? Because employers were concerned that High School students were unprepared for the job market – a pretty basic and fundamental issue

The initial motivation for the development of the Common Core State Standards was part of the American Diploma Project (ADP).

A report titled, “Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts,” from 2004 found that both employers and colleges are demanding more of high school graduates than in the past. According to Achieve, Inc., “current high-school exit expectations fall well short of [employer and college] demands.” The report explains that the major problem currently facing the American school system is that high school graduates were not provided with the skills and knowledge they needed to succeed in college and careers. “While students and their parents may still believe that the diploma reflects adequate preparation for the intellectual demands of adult life, in reality it falls far short of this common-sense goal.” The report continues that the diploma itself lost its value because graduates could not compete successfully beyond high school, and that the solution to this problem is a common set of rigorous standards.

Why implement it nationwide? So that a kid in Alabama meets the same standards as a kid in Vermont, and so that no kid is shortchanged. But to Chris Collins, this is communistic hogwash. Here’s the press release that followed the call: 

Jan 27, 2014 Press Release Thousands of district constituents participate in discussion about new educational standards

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) talked to parents about Common Core today as part of a district-wide telephone town hall meeting.  The new educational standards are currently being implemented in New York State.  Common Core is widely criticized for forcing students to learn skills necessary to perform well on tests as opposed to actually learning critical material. 

Thousands of NY-27 constituents participated in the town hall to learn more about Common Core and voice their concerns about how the new standards are impacting their children. 

“There are few issues as important to the future of our country as the education of our children,” said Congressman Collins.  “Unfortunately, in today’s world, too many of the decisions surrounding our children’s education are being made by government bureaucrats far removed from the classroom.  I believe strongly that parents, teachers and local school leaders know what is best for our children.  Common Core is a typical one-size-fits-all approach generated by big government bureaucrats.”

New York State adopted Common Core standards in 2010.  Across the country, 45 states have begun Common Core implementation, but recently ten states, including Massachusetts, have started to rethink or delay their participation over growing concerns from parents, educators and students themselves.  States were incentivized to participate in Common Core by the federal government through grant money available as part of the American Recovery and Restoration Act (federal stimulus). 

During the telephone town hall, parents voiced concerns about the student testing standards, mandated curriculum, and teacher/school evaluations tied to test results as dictated by Common Core.   Joining Collins for the town hall was Neal McCluskey, Associate Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom

“We should all want our children to be college or career ready following high school graduation and we should be willing to raise our standards to achieve that goal,” continued Collins.  “But Common Core is about churning out students as test takers, not inquisitive students excited about learning.

By forcing students to spend their K-12 years arduously focused on test talking, we will never develop our next generation of leaders, educators and entrepreneurs.  That is sad for our children and our country.”

Collins continued to urge parents and educators to raise awareness of Common Core and push for changes to its implementation, if not full repeal.  Parents with questions about Common Core are encouraged to contact Congressman Collins’ office.

Well there it is. It wasn’t so much to let parents vent concerns as much as it was an opportunity for some guy from a libertarian think tank to propagandize to a conservative constituency. Was there a principal from a school in the district on the call? Was there anyone there who wasn’t there to promote an agenda, but had actual practical experience to offer? Was there anyone there with an advanced teaching degree? This less than a year after the school district that covers Collins’ own home underwent a brutal and painful budget process last year – one that saw tons of young, dedicated educators unceremoniously fired and myriad programs cut. Chutzpah is the word. 

Who got to participate in the call? I’m not on Collins’ mailing list, despite having subscribed at least twice. So, yesterday, while my wife and I were at work, we got this call:

Well, I wasn’t at home. I was at work working. Even though I knew about the call ahead of time, thanks to some local media reporting, I couldn’t participate because I was at work working on work so that I can bring home an income and, among other things, donate money to the school foundation set up to help fund programs that were cut last year. 

Common Core may be susceptible to demagoguery because it sounds ominous, is new, and because the state of New York’s implementation of its standards was as abrupt as it was inept. Tons of kids came home last year having been tested against standards that weren’t taught during the school year, and they got bad scores. But when I talked to my youngest’s school principal and teachers about the new standards, they were universally enthusiastic about it. The new standards will not only ensure that the right things are being taught, but they will have an ability to track how kids are doing in real time, and divert extra help where it’s needed. 

This isn’t about rolling back Common Core. This is about outlawing public education in this country. This is about codifying a fundamentally unfair, tiered education system whereby the poor and middle class receive vouchers enabling their kids to attend de-funded, decontented, tertiary quality schools; the upper middle class might be able to kick in extra for parochial or second-quality private schools; and the millionaire class can afford whatever they damn well please, and have their precious snowflakes’ private educations subsidized by the poor and middle class. It is the very definition of class warfare – by the wealthy against the not-wealthy. This is about the slow dismantling of every progressive goal this country has ever achieved – public K-12 education, social security, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, Medicare – anything designed to help average people and the elderly enjoy life. This is a war being waged by millionaires and billionaires against you and me. 

It is a war against the American Dream itself. 

So, if people were hosting a genuine conversation about Common Core and its standards and implementation, that would be great. But that’s not what Collins was doing. He timed the “discussion” so that working parents could not participate. He did not advertise it nearly well enough. He did not have a balanced discussion, but instead propagandized with the help of libertarian school choice advocates (read: public school opponents). 


  • Good to hear we are finally getting away from the Dem/Gop side show and focusing on the real problem which is the Rich v/s poor/income inequality…..

    • The concentration of wealth is undermining our democracy and our economy. A consumer based economy requires a wide base of support that only a large middle class can provide. Decades of enabling the wealthy and at the same time driving down wages and workers benefits has created the inequality and resulting underclass. This was accomplished by the wealthy having far too much influence in our political process, not by some natural occuring phenomenon or “free market’ adjustment. Government programs to help low wage earners have become little more than a subsidy to business, allowing them to avoid paying a fair wage while letting the taxpayers make up the difference. This reality seems to be ignored by those that attack big government and rant about the poor not “paying their fair share”.
      The problem is bigger than just fixing the system, real change requires a return to values that reject materialism and greed. Too many Americans seem to be enthralled with the idea of being very wealthy and foolishly believe they have a chance of joining that club. Sadder still is the belief that great wealth=happiness when the evidence does not support this myth. That said, poverty does indeed result in unhappiness and dsyfunction. We need a bigger middle class to enlarge the tax base, grow the economy, and make more good citizens that contribute to society.

      • Chris Collins is the poster boy for the greed, arrogance, and lack of basic decency that has come to define the right in this country. He never fails to attack any efforts to help the average citizen and can always be counted on to support any effort to enable the wealthy. He is the ugly American, short on substance and long on hyberbole.

  • Even with politicians I basically reject wholeheartedly (like Collins) even the most inane occasionally say something that makes sense.

    “Unfortunately, in today’s world, too many of the decisions surrounding our children’s education are being made by government bureaucrats far removed from the classroom. I believe strongly that parents, teachers and local school leaders know what is best for our children.”

    We need to take a look at the history of this thing. All my life and all of yours Alan we have seen over and over again the same solution to the education problem vetted with slight differences in key words and talking points. That solution basically is always the same however. Raise standards. Standardize. Test. And they all have the commonality of coming from politicians as well as increasingly taking decision of what to teach and how to teach it farther and farther from the professional in the classroom and closer and closer to bureaucrats far away who have more political expertise and motivation that common sense and real experience in education.

    We have witnessed the cascade of “raise the standard and test” programs for thirty years now. And we have witnessed their failure one after the other only to be replaced by the next “raise the standard and test” program.

    We need to recognize those realities and try a different solution, give another idea a chance when all the old ideas have failed.

    In this one thing I think Collins is right. That is difficult for me to say.

  • The only thing Common Core is lacking is common sense.

  • I heard Chris Collins this morning extolling his son’s private school education. Gee, do ya think? The parallel he is trying to draw is not only apples and oranges but more like apples and elephants.
    I also believe in local control, but there has to be a standard. A diploma has to mean the same thing regardless of what part of the country it is achieved in.

    • The problem with Common Core and the failed similar initiatives before it is that it’s basic “scope” is based on a series of flawed suppositions.
      The scope is based on the premise that all children are and should be college ready at graduation. It also supposes that if college is not the goal then the student should be trained and prepared for the vast and various demands of uncountable and ever changing job duties. Not the traditional job duties of the past but modern American thinking that has eliminated all those “jobs we don’t want” to foreign countries. All those jobs that require physical labor.
      That leaves only two categories of jobs. Highly skilled professional positions and the below living standard service jobs with no body desires for “their” children.
      On top of that any remnant of the old idea that business itself should be responsible in any way to train employees themselves in the skills they require has vanished. Why should business invest in training labor for the skills they require when they can demand educational institutions and the government do it for them?
      In order to buy all this you have to accept several dubious strictures and ignore the reality of how the rest of the world accomplishes education.
      You have to believe that because we are Americans we are somehow a superior race. Each of us as Americans surely must have the aptitude ( and personal desire)to be college educated professionals, the big wheels and big cheeses. Kind of like Hitler believing in an Arian Super Race.
      You have to accept that we really don’t need all those little things done by honest hard work and labor. All that should most properly be done by foreigners for us in return for our brilliant contribution of just being American. You have to morally and ethically resolve yourself to disrespect, distaste and scorn for the little guy doing a simple but necessary job…even if he works hard doing something for you that you don’t want to do yourself. Even if he does it well.
      You have to believe in the absoluteness that public education can and should teach each and every student over a twelve year period all that the myriad variety of employers desire in them. You have to still believe that even when you know that ten years after graduation all those same skills and knowledge bases and requirements will change.
      You need to put yourself in a mental delirium that tells you that somehow all those jobs that provided for our past economic stability and success, all those jobs we have lost to places like China (the most rapidly expanding economy today) were filled over there with Chinese workers who somehow, miraculously were better educated than our own people.
      You have to ignore that other countries are improving their economies with all those jobs we can’t be lowered to do.
      You have to disregard other countries successes where, instead of requiring every student to become college and job ready instead move individual students along according to their academic abilities.
      And, importantly, you can not in any way accept that when we put the vast bulk of our educational resources in money and time into more and more programs to help the bottom third get up to this high standard we inevitably starve the top, brightest and best of our students of the resources needed to take them as far as they can possibly go.
      Believe all that and you can have great success with Common Core and all the like programs that somehow have failed time and time again. And if Common Core doesn’t work out, oh well. Sure enough there will be another new program coming down the pike with catchy new slogans, trendy new claims and based on the tried and true successes of central control, higher standards, testing and standardization.
      We can achieve greatness once again and happiness as long as we have a great powerful central grand Pooh-Bah to lead us, and we make sure our children are standardized to the max. Oh, and we must be sure not to listen or give any authority to the teacher in the classroom. They must do as our worthy politicians in Albany and Washington tell them.
      I, on the other hand am somewhat skeptical.

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