Monkey See, Monkey Do
Every campaign has talking points. I usually don’t quote from Wikipedia but this time it’s spot on target.
A talking point in debate or discourse is a succinct statement designed to support persuasively one side taken on an issue. Such statements can either be free standing or created as retorts to the opposition’s talking points and are frequently used in public relations, particularly in areas heavy in debate such as politics and marketing.
A political think tank will strategize the most effective informational attack on a target topic and launch talking points from media personalities to saturate discourse in order to frame a debate in their favor, standardizing the responses of sympathizers to their unique cause.
When used politically in this way, the typical purpose of a talking point is to propagandize, specifically using the technique of argumentum ad nauseam, i.e. continuous repetition within media outlets until accepted as fact.
The drivers of the Common Core State Standards and high stakes testing have been using the same talking points to sell their agenda. Media outlets all across the nation mimic these talking points with a ” monkey see, monkey do” precision only seen in well choreographed campaigns. These media outlets repeat these talking points without challenging their authors’ authenticity.
Let’s start challenging these talking points.
Let’s start with Race to the Top. What does that really mean? We hear it over and over. States turned their education agendas upside down over this so called race. Has any media outlet challenged these words? All races have losers, only 1 entity really can win any race. What does this really mean?
“College and career ready” is another talking point mimic-ed by the media without thought. What does that mean? Where is the data that supports it. Considering our colleges have enrollment and graduation rates at historic highs, where is the data to support this point?
“Rigor” is another favorite of the reformers. Schools must have rigor in their assessments and curriculum has been the rally cry for the reformers. Yet when we look for definitions of rigor in their press releases we find nothing. New York State even demands thatall district created assessments developed to evaluate teachers have rigor, yet New York State leaves out what rigor is. They leave that term up to local superintendents to certify that rigor exists. So what is it?
“Critical thinking” The Common Core is supposed to be geared to promote critical thinking. Yet when one looks at these Common Standards there seems to be little critical thinking across the board. Is critical thinking a method of evaluating points of view and creating arguments? Can critical thinking be achieved by skewing literature with short reads? Is critical thinking developed when teachers follow carefully worded scripts across the nation? It is ironic that the supporters of the Common Core promote critical thinking while stripping away the ability of professional educators to utilize their critical thinking abilities to teach their students.
The new talking point introduced this week is ” a new baseline”. This week New York State released state test score results that created a frenzy throughout the state. Scores dropped to unthinkable levels, due to hastily created exams designed to create ” a new baseline.” On average 70% of all NY students are now labeled as not on grade level. The media has instantaneously bought into this new baseline theory without challenging the authors to its authenticity. The tests that created this new baseline remain locked away to prevent scrutiny of its content or validity. The”new baseline’ seems to appease the masses for now so we now see ” a new baseline” used in editorials across the state.
What if this “new baseline” is really an error? What if this national social experiment titled ‘ Common Core” really does not promote critical thinking? What if “rigor” isn’t in the best interest of the child and rigor ignores the developmental abilities of the child? What if the “college and career ready” rhetoric is nothing more that shrill of a side show barker?
What would happen if the news media really did their job and stopped repeating these talking points without intellectual thought?