May 12, 2014

Peggy Noonan, Michelle Rhee, and Gobbledygook

By Bellwether

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WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan wrote a revealing blog post about Common Core.  Checker Finn responded on the substance, but something else caught my eye.  Noonan opens with,

George Will made an incisive and spirited case against the Common Core on Tuesday’s “Special Report With Bret Baier. Earlier in the broadcast Michelle Rhee, whose efforts in education have earned her deserved admiration, was invited on to make the case for Common Core. She reverted to the gobbledygook language that educators too often use, and failed to make a persuasive case that the Core is good for public-school students, and will help them, and our country, in the long run.

Actually, Will makes a pretty standard issue case against federal involvement that misstates who actually made most educational decisions for the past half century (states and localities) as well as the progress for a variety of student groups (minorities, special education students) during that time. It also misstates what’s happening with Common Core now. Still, that’s understandable, Noonan isn’t an education analyst. But the “gobbledygook” quip about Rhee is revealing. Watch Rhee’s segment. Agree with her or not it’s hardly jargony. Rhee uses terms like “internationally benchmarked” and cites the PISA test. I suspect that if Noonan was talking about a solider who used a term like “our AO” as shorthand for area of operations or a pilot who mentioned “pitch” or “yaw” she wouldn’t dismiss it as gobbledygook (possible Noonan line: “They speak like masculine men, men who push things and pull things and haul things and build things.”)

Whatever you think of Rhee, when a national columnist dismisses an education conversation like that it highlights a disrespect of the field. On that Rhee fans and foes in the education world ought to be able to agree.

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