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MEDIA WATCH: 'All the news that fits, they print...' How The New York Times's version of reality and corporate America's 'school reform' biases get into news stories about opposition to the Common Core

From those who created "Chicagoland" to tout Rahm Emanuel's corporate version of reality to the latest output from the Chicago Public Schools "Office of Communcations", apologists for corporate "school reform" are showing their desperation more and more in defense of programs (charter expansion; Race To The Top; merit pay for teachers based on "value added" measures; and of course Common Core) that are drawing massive opposition across the USA.

But almost everyone knows that "Chicagoland" (nicknamed "Rahm: Emperor of Chicaoland" by some in Chicago) is fiction, there is still a danger when propaganda is presented as fact. And that danger is never greater when the "facts" are published in a "news" report in the pages of America's "newspaper of record," The New York Times.

But propaganda for Common Core it is. Twice during the final two weeks of May 2014, America's supposed "newspaper of record," The New York Times, published articles both on line and in its print edition about the so-called "Common Core" and the growing opposition to that federal program. In both articles, as readers can see for themselves, the Times's version of reality was that opponents of the Common Core are mostly right winger "Tea Party" types, while there is still some kind of broad-based mainstream backing for the Common Core.

By the time American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten (left) appointed billionaire Bill Gates to speak at the 2010 AFT convention in Seattle, AFT locals had already received millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation to promote merit pay. Additional dollars went into preparing "Common Core" materials, even as the Common Core became more and more unpopular across the nation among teachers and other AFT members. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The first article dealt with opposition to Common Core in Tennessee, noting that some leaders of that state's teachers' union were joining with conservative legislators against Common Core.

In the second of their two articles, the Times quotes American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten in support of Common Core.

In both articles, the Times' editors and reporters deliberately ignored the fact that one of the most militant local unions in the AFT -- the Chicago Teachers Union -- had voted against the Common Core and was bringing a resolution to the AFT convention in Los Angeles in July opposing Common Core.

MIKOTO RICH NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE DISTORTING THE OPPOSITION TO COMMON CORE:

Common Core School Standards Face a New Wave of Opposition. By MOTOKO RICH, MAY 29, 2014 (ON LINE). MAY 30 (IN PRINT).

The article included a photo of Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma with the captions saying she "has not decided whether to sign a bill that would withdraw her state from the Common Core standards. Similar legislation is on governors desks in Missouri and South Carolina. Credit Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press..." [SUBSTANCE Editor's Note: Given that Fallin's reactionary reputation as a result of Oklahoma's executions is widespread, you've got to wonder why her picture was chosen...].

Opposition to the Common Core, a set of reading and math standards for elementary, middle and high school students that were originally adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia, has gathered momentum among state lawmakers in recent weeks.

The governors of Oklahoma and South Carolina are considering signing bills to repeal the standards and replace them with locally written versions. In Missouri, lawmakers passed a bill that would require a committee of state educators to come up with new standards within the next two years.

Although the Common Core, developed by a coalition convened by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, was initially backed by a group of Republican governors, the Obama administration also lent its support. For the past year, conservative Republicans, seizing on the administrations backing, have argued that the standards amount to a federal takeover of public schools.

Jason Nelson, a Republican state representative from northwest Oklahoma who sponsored the bill to withdraw the state from the Common Core, said he and his colleagues wanted to break any kind of nexus where any private organization or the federal government would exert control over our standards. The bill passed the Oklahoma House overwhelmingly last week, and this week it passed the Senate, 31 to 10.

The pushback from the right has been fueled by an unlikely alliance with critics on the left, who are upset by new standardized tests and the high stakes associated with them, including teacher performance reviews.

But teachers unions say that those who are calling for a full rejection of the Common Core are exploiting the broader discontent about the rollout of the standards and new tests.

The Tea Party is using the frustration with the implementation as the guise to eliminate standards in schools and to destabilize public education, said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the countrys second-largest teachers union. Its executive council recently passed a resolution supporting the promise and potential of the Common Core State Standards.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, is meeting with educators and parents before deciding whether to sign the bill. She has been a supporter of high standards in education and has said that Common Core is one pathway to achieving high standards, said Alex Weintz, a spokesman for the governor.

A spokesman for Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina told The State, a newspaper in Columbia, S.C., that the governor, a Republican, would fight the Common Core until its no longer part of our school systems curriculum.

The standards leave decisions about curriculum, textbooks, technology and other materials to local districts. But some parents view them as too prescriptive and say all decisions about educational standards should be made by local communities.

When you have national standards, it becomes very hard for a state school board to control what exactly your child is learning, said Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Public Education, a parent advocacy group. Local control really produces the best educational results.

Many states and districts have already developed lessons and trained teachers in new methods built around the Common Core, in some cases spending millions of dollars. Missouris bill would allow teachers to continue using any recently adopted curriculums while a committee of educators, parents and business leaders develops new standards to be put into effect in two years.

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A spokeswoman for Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri, a Democrat, said, The governor will give this legislation a thorough, comprehensive review before determining what action he will take.

Supporters of the Common Core say that most states remain committed. Even with all the noise and bombast, said Michael J. Petrilli, an education analyst at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning think tank that supports the standards, 40-plus states are still standing with the Common Core.

And in Indiana, the only state to have enacted a law repealing the Common Core so far, the new standards developed by local experts are actually quite similar to the national standards.

Teachers are growing frustrated.

How are you supposed to plan and prepare, said Felix Linden, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Oklahoma City, when you have so much uncertainty around what youre supposed to teach and how youre supposed to teach it?

Correction: May 29, 2014 An earlier version of a headline with this article mischaracterized the Common Core standards for math and reading. They are a set of educational guidelines; they are not federal standards.

A version of this article appears in print on May 30, 2014, on page A13 of the New York edition with the headline: Common Core School Standards Face a New Wave of Opposition.

SUSAN OHANIAN WROTE THE FOLLOWING ABOUT THE MIKOTO RICH NEW YORK TIMES STORY:

[Susan notes: The New York Times continues to offer sound bite space to Randi Weingartner, when increasingly, she fails to speak for the rank and file.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published. 05/30/2014

To the editor

The New York Times continues to pose opposition to the Common Core standards as coming from the right (OppositionCommon Core School Standards Face a New Wave of Opposition), offering space to AFT head Randi Weingartn to proclaim that the AFT "executive council recently passed a resolution supporting 'the promise and potential of the Common Core State Standards.'" Weingartner's proclamation was followed by the reporter's phrase "teachers unions say. . . ," suggesting that union members across the country support the Common Core.

The New York Times should note that the AFT executive council is clinging to a leaky life raft in a vast ocean of teacher discontent. Here's one example: On May 7, 2014, the 800-member Chicago AFT House of Delegates, representing the second-largest AFT local in the country, unanimously voted against the Common Core.

Unanimous. Not one dissenting vote.

Among other things, this resolution, written by teachers, speaks to the need for "developmentally appropriate practices." This core issue is something classroom teachers worry about--but that the media seems unable to comprehend.

Susan Ohanian



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