The headline on the lead editorial in this morning’s Charlotte Observer (June 11, 2013) almost made me laugh out loud because it sounded so much like the Wizard of Oz telling people to ignore what is happening behind the curtain.
The headline reads “Don’t fall for myths about Common Core.” The editors then follow their usual method of defending one of former Governor Jim Hunt’s educational schemes – they simply refuse to report any facts that don’t fit their fiction. Since Common Core is definitely the current flavor of Governor Hunt and his friend Marc Tucker’s grand plan, why not look at Hunt’s actual record?
Based on my personal experience dealing with Jim Hunt and his associates, in North Carolina our former Governor has operated like the Wizard of Oz for years, playing the political game to perfection. And through all those years, the North Carolina press has operated more like his PR agency than legitimate news people.
Unfortunately for Hunt and his allies, the internet has permitted news to escape from the newsroom. As the pieces of Common Core were assembled, the press buried inconvenient facts and they stayed buried. This time it may be a little harder to keep the public in the dark.
For all the years Hunt held office, his mantra was raising standards. But the facts don’t support that fiction. In 1977, during Hunt’s first term as Governor, the standard for a high school diploma was set at the 6th grade level. Now, though that standard was theoretically raised to the 8th grade level in 1995, anyone looking at what is actually being taught knows that neither standard was real. Actual achievement is worse now than before Hunt started “raising standards.” For example . . .
Before Hunt came to office, students were taught to write English sentences in cursive and even how to diagram those sentences. During Hunt’s time in office, the UNC Schools of Education started teaching teachers not to correct the spelling, grammar, etc. of elementary school students because it would “stifle their creativity” and they could be taught those “details” later. They put cursive out to pasture as not needed since computers would replace writing.
In both cases, the educational elitists making these decisions forgot to mention them to parents or the general public. As a parent who learned of the dishonesty firsthand, after real damage had been done, I don’t care how often Jim Hunt and his allies crow about high standards, because I know what they say is meaningless propaganda.
After Hunt quit running for office, he wrote a book, First In America, promoting his educational vision. A couple of sentences on page 55 stand out. “We weren’t candid about how things were going. We didn’t change the situation. That’s dishonest and that’s wrong.”
Hunt was blaming society, but most members of society were simply trying to earn a living and raise a family. Hunt was promoting himself as the education governor. He and his allies were running North Carolina’s schools.
Jim Hunt and his associates have never told the public the truth about what they were actually doing. What the public sees is completely different from what is happening behind the curtain. As Hunt said himself, “That’s dishonest and that’s wrong.”
But let’s leave for another day the gory details of the grand plan. The only point for today is a simple one:
When people with a history of lowering standards and deceiving the public claim they care about high standards, why would anyone believe them?
And if you doubt Hunt approved giving a high school diploma to a child who couldn’t pass a ninth grade test, a copy of the Charlotte Observer’s lead editorial from January 30, 1995, is provided to document that sad bit of history. The Observer, of course, was praising Hunt and promoting his program, but that doesn’t change this key fact they unwittingly documented: From the beginning, Hunt’s competency tests were used to deceive the public.
Common Core’s claim of higher standards is unbelievable to anyone who knows the true history of Hunt’s misuse of testing to deceive parents and the public.