Education Standards Are Necessarily Political
August 22, 2014

Kristen Amundson, "executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education" really does use the phrase "turf war" in her op-ed piece Don't politicize education standards (The Detroit News, August 22, 2014, p. 14A). The phrase reveals an unwholesome attitude. State legislators, in Amundson's opinion, who believe they should have some "authority to decide what kids should learn" are engaged in a "turf war." They are encroaching on Amundson's turf. She is not making arguments, she is marking her territory.

Let me enumerate some fallacies in her article:

Here is Amundson's basic vision:

In most states, boards of education articulate academic standards as well as a long-term vision for public education. Because they're insulated from undue political pressure, state boards are able to serve as unbiased brokers of policy and focus solely on improving education for all students.
The technical term for the fallacy contained in that paragraph is: Load of Total Crap. Here is my instant re-write:
We are "unbiased brokers" who must be "insulated from undue political pressure" so we can "articulate" a "long-term vision."
Just exactly how, in the name of God Almighty, did Board of Education members become so flipping special?

This is what I've observed over many years of following political news: "Insulated from undue political pressure" actually means insulated from the legislative branch of government. That renders a board open to other channels of influence: national boards, foundations, consultants, all kinds of weird ideological and financial concerns. During recent controversies in Michigan concerning the Common Core Curriculum or standards, I did not get the idea that the members of our state board of education were "unbiased brokers." They seemed highly biased and they were not brokering anything. They were aiming to get their own way.

Our ideas about education reflect who we are, what we are like, the world we live in, the kind of world we might like to live in, our hopes for the futures of our children, our hopes for the future of our people. Sometimes we quite properly express these ideas, these feelings, these aspirations through the political process.

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