What Does The Fordham Institute Think “Conservatism” Is?

Via Twitter, Fordham’s Michelle Gininger asks if this editorial in the Columbus Dispatch convinces me that there’s a “conservative case” for the Common Core State Standards.

It does not. As I said before, a “conservative case” for the CCSS needs to appeal specifically to conservative philosophical concerns. That is, a “conservative case” for the Common Core should probably make some effort to deal with conservative philosophy. The Dispatch editorial does defend the CCSS on two fronts, but in neither case are the arguments conservative per se.

As the authors point out, many critics of the Common Core initiative have objections rooted in “baseless conspiracy theories” that should therefore not be taken seriously. This is true as far as it goes, but note that while these CCSS critics happen to be conservatives their conspiracy theories really have nothing to do with conservative philosophy as such. Moreover, even at its best this point doesn’t provide an affirmative argument for the CCSS, let alone an affirmative conservative argument.

The Dispatch editorial does also repeat the oft-heard claim that the CCSS are superior on the merits to the state’s existing standards. That may or may not be the case but what, exactly, is “conservative” about that argument? Lots of people think that individual policies should be evaluated based on their specific practical merits, but I suspect that people who identify as conservative are if anything more likely to eschew that view in favor of other procedural concerns (e.g., about the proper role of the federal government.)

Now, maybe part of the issue here is that conservatism is so poorly defined as a political philosophy that “a conservative argument” is just “an argument that self-described conservatives like”. I’m guessing that that’s not the position that the Fordham Institute really wants to take, but I do increasingly wonder whether it’s the position that they are implicitly accepting.

This entry was posted in Education Reform and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply