Common Core Standards: Improvement in Academic K-12 Standards or Just Big Government Control? Part 2

Mary Laura Bragg Excellence in Education

By Bill Korach

Yesterday we published The Pioneer Institute Study attacking the Common Core Standards as “bad for America.” Pioneer claims that educational K-12 standard with actiually cause harm to public education. Today we publish a defense of the Common Core Standards by Mary Laura Bragg of Excellence in Education. Mary Laura serves as Director of State Policy Implementation for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. A former classroom teacher, Mary Laura directed Governor Jeb Bush’s statewide literacy initiative, Just Read, Florida! As director, she was responsible for crafting and implementing the policies that helped place a command focus on reading instruction in Florida. She has served on advisory groups on adolescent literacy for both the Alliance for Excellent Education and the National Governors Association. She is also a member of Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Advisory Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy. Contact Mary Laura at It should be noted that Excellence in Education is a key driver of Common Core Standards acceptance by so many states. The Report Card requested an interview with Ms. Bragg specifically concerning questions raised by the authors of the Pioneer Report. As of this afternoon, there has been no response concerning the report

Truth. As in, you can’t handle

by Mary Laura Bragg,

I’m growing weary of the constant circulation – willfully or ignorantly – of inaccurate information about Common Core State Standards.  And I’m not just talking about the swirling from those in education circles who are either misinformed or uninformed as to the impact the standards will have on classic literature.  As a conservative, I’m  already tired of the more recent swirl from those in political circles who wrongly assign credit of the development of these standards to big, bad Washington.

Reading the latest “shots from the hip” from the newest Common Core nay-sayers, I couldn’t help but hear the voices of Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in my head.  So, with apologies to A Few Good Men 

Me: You want answers?!

Nay-sayers: We want the truth!

Me: You can’t handle the truth! We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by an educated workforce. Who’s gonna do it? You? You? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom!

You weep for States who you perceive as “victims” and you curse the Federal Government’s “interference.” You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Little Johnny’s failure, while tragic, could have been avoided.  He could have been saved from a mediocre job with little-to-no pay and a life of government dependence, if only you had stepped down from your high horse. And my support for state-created and state-driven standards, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, is part of an effort to save students from those failed lives!

You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall! You need me on that wall! We use words like “national standards”, “voluntary”, “globally competitive”. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending the belief that all children can learn. You use them –inaccurately – as an excuse to bash the Feds.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to nay-sayers who rise and sleep under the blanket of an education reform agenda, and then question the manner in which I ensure it! I would rather you just said “Thank you,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you give up the bashing of a critically important reform simply because your political enemy endorsed it.



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4 Responses to “Common Core Standards: Improvement in Academic K-12 Standards or Just Big Government Control? Part 2”

  1. Kate McCormack, Esq. says:

    Dear Pioneer Institute: Thank you for including Ms. Bragg’s response in your piece with respect to the Common Core and its agenda being (depending on your view) either good or bad for America. Ms. Bragg’s points were illuminating but does her entity and the principle proponents of the new manifesto, the Excellence in Education, no favors.

    In point of fact, Ms. Bragg may actually benefit by returning to school and signing up for an English class before she considers engaging in her next screed. She should pay particular attention to lessons regarding overall “tone” as well as the art of rhetoric or persuasion.

    To that end, Ms. Bragg unfortunately resorts and rests her hat on Jack Nicholson’s narcissistic rant as an excuse not to tell everyone what the real objectives are. By saying we “can’t handle the truth” she comes across as condescending and insults as all. Is that really the impression Excellence in Education wants to leave? Are they comfortable with that new image she has just crafted for them by virtue of her response?

    If so, it is clear that she and Excellence in Education are demeaning or derogatory by indirectly calling us weak and “unworthy of the truth.” In so doing, she indirectly reveals that since they think we can’t handle the truth , their actions have been less than forthcoming. In other words, her attempt at deflection is really nothing short of an admission that they are hiding something. Some people do understand the art of rhetoric and see her piece for what it is: a faulty argument based on a generalized ad hominem, an appeal to emotion rather than objective logic and reasoning. When it comes to rhetoric, everyone knows ad hominems are simply “sub-standard.” Which, given Excellence in Education’s employment of this sub-standard tactic to represent itself and the education of our children, now suggests the commitment to exercising all of the standards warrants much greater scrutiny – on their part. The “do as I say, not as I do” approach just isn’t going to cut it. After all, shouldn’t society hold its educational leaders to the same if not higher standard than being sub-standard? My goodness, it looks like their own argument can be used against them.

    Ms. Bragg further admits she is “already tired” of answering objective questions. As such,she would fail as a teacher in any schooL. As such, a question is raised whether she a good representative of Excellence in Education with the responsibility to “teach” the nation about their model.

    Moreover, Ms. Bragg’s overall tone came across sounding, well, simply put (and only since she has demonstrated she finds ad hominem’s acceptable in a response): rude, arrogant, bratty and pedantic. Coupled with a faulty, sub-standard use of rhetoric with an admission of inability to respond to questions from others with differing views, suggests further objective inquiry into the overall delivery and effectiveness of the Common Core is warranted.

    Ms. Bragg’s Grade: F.

    Comments: Is it possible that Ms. Bragg and her company, Excellence in Education think we cannot handle the truth in terms of the fact that Houghton-Mifflin, who stands to gain financially under the Common Core, was once the publisher of Mein Kampf? Is it possible therefore that closer scrutiny should be paid to the actual selections of literature (and selections of passages on tests) that will be put before the minds of our American youth – let alone as to what is being struck? Is this the truth she was alluding to that she thinks we can’t handle? Or is it a truth they think we won’t handle?

  2. RC says:

    This is a defense? This is outright denigration of the notion of open debate. This is the tool of liberals and leftist to mock and deny the validity of any contrary position to their own.

    Is this is the best that the proponents of Common Core have to offer, including Jeb Bush, no wonder our children are ill equipped to face the challenges of the global economy…or to defend liberty and freedom.

  3. Kate McCormack, Esq. says:

    Just one more minor thing –

    Do you think some of the truth that Ms. Bragg thinks we can’t handle has something to do with the fact that they don’t want anyone knowing about the fact that Houghton Mifflin (which stands to gain significantly by the Common Core financially)had a “high-level” representative also on the board of State Street Bank during a period in question in which financial fraud or “theft” was allegedly taking place targeting the public teacher’s funds – including but not limited to those of Calstrs and the Arkansas Teacher’s Retirement Fund currently in federal court in Boston? Cutting to the chase, does she think teachers just could not handle the fact that the common core proponents would be forcing them to promote a business whose “high level representative” in turn found a way to “steal” from them? Perhaps, I do stand corrected. Ms. Bragg may have a point! Teachers, let alone the public, just might not stand for being robbed (allegedly) and then being forced to sing the praises of those who stole from them. That probably wouldn’t sit too well – and what a message that sends about big business’s failure of integrity. What role models they will then serve for our children. In point of fact,looking back on their questionable “leadership” as we look forward in all of this might even backfire on the Common “Corp” Curriculum.

    I know Ms. Bragg can’t handle the questions because they tire her, so these are just rhetorical for all:

    1.)Did Houghton Mifflin publish Mein Kampf? (answer: yes) 2.)Was a high level representative of Houghton Mifflin – a major proponent of the Common Core – on the board of State Street Bank which is currently accused of going after the teacher’s unions and their pension funds (by that I mean “stealing” them in a complex ‘asset reallocation formula’ or something like that [which is just clever deceptive phrasing that still means stealing] pursuant to and regarding certain forex trades)? (answer: yes)
    3.)Wasn’t Hitler against unions? (answer: yes)
    4.)Wasn’t Hitler for a national socialist or national standards agenda? (answer: yes)
    5.)Should we take a closer look at the Common Core and the motivations of all those behind it? (answer: YES!)

    Alas, I can only rest my hat on knowing that while in the short run conceit may be a good tool for deceit, in the long run, the truth will prevail – without fail. The real truth.

    Ah, now how’s that for some nasty naysayin?!

    “Never stop questioning!” – Albert Einstein


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