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The Education Gladfly

Continuing his stunning career ascent, Common Core architect David Coleman has agreed to take a top post in Pope Francis’s inner circle, just months after joining the College Board. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Coleman through a spokesperson, who also noted that he’s converting to Roman Catholicism. He will be in charge of designing a new church liturgy, which will focus on close reading of Biblical texts and won’t shy away from the most demanding passages in scripture. “Previously, the church was afraid to assign many readings from the Book of Revelation because of its text complexity,” Coleman said in an interview. “But if we expect our faithful to be ready for Heaven—not to mention college and career—we need to aim higher.” Still, Coleman stressed, regardless of Rome’s involvement, the Common Core remains a state-led initiative.

French President Francois Hollande faced international ridicule last year when he banned homework. Undeterred by the ensuing jibes and mockery, he recently announced new national mandates from the Élysée Palace: So as not to give undue advantage to some children, Hollande proclaimed that French parents may no longer read to their kids, spend any time with them, or show them any love at all. To which one commentator asked, “And this changes things how?”

In a misunderstanding of supersized proportions, San Francisco mayor Edwin M. Lee has pushed through a new “weighted-student” funding plan that bases schools’ budgets on the BMI of their pupils. The silver lining (or golden arches?) is that the move has bolstered the city’s fast-food industry, as schools take thrice-weekly “field trips” to McDonald’s and Burger King. “Campbell’s Law! Campbell’s Law!” chanted Richard Rothstein to no one in particular.

According to the Delaware Day-Before-Tomorrow, the rumors that the First State is looking to outsource its government are true: Billionaires Rupert Murdoch and Eli Broad have each approached Gov. Jack Markell with complexly structured offers to buy the state and take it private. Murdoch is said to have thrown in free access to the Amplify Education Unit for every household with school-age kids, while Broad has offered to put his own name on every one of Delaware’s schools. “Carnegie did it for public libraries,” a Broad spokesperson pointed out.

We’re relieved that Alabama’s latest skirmish over the Common Core has ended without excessive bloodshed. The brief incursion by the National Guard (which, despite its name, is, like the Common Core itself, a state-led initiative, under the control of governors!) came to a relatively peaceable conclusion when Tea Party legislators backed off their demand that the Heart of Dixie instead adopt the “Common Standards of the Confederacy.” They did, nevertheless, push through a bill to abolish the state’s public education system. But the Core remains intact!

More financial shenanigans by Bernie Madoff came to light last week when the FBI revealed that the teacher-pension plans of Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wyoming are Ponzi schemes designed before the scoundrel entered prison (but still overseen by his third cousins). “The only way that retired teachers in those four states—and possibly in others yet to be uncovered—are receiving pensions today,” said FBI director Robert Mueller, “is because current teachers are paying into those pension plans to keep them afloat—just barely. It’s sort of like, you know, Social Security.”

In keeping with her Texas origins and in the footsteps of conservative trailblazers who preceded her, Diane Ravitch recently launched the Network for Ossifying Public Education (or NOPE). “We want this to be the National Review of the education-reform movement,” Ravitch explained. “In the tradition of Buckley and Burke, my colleagues and I intend to ‘stand athwart history yelling STOP!’ at a time when no one is inclined to do so.” No specific agenda has yet been announced, as the group intends to be 100 percent reactionary. “Our plan,” Ravitch explained, “is to wait and see what Jonah Edelman supports and then rally behind the opposite. Our forthcoming Gates grant makes it all possible.”

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