Consumers Have Rejected the Common Core Sales Pitch

This insightful article reported from "Politico"  is by Stephanie Simon.  Thanks to Stephanie for pulling back the curtain on a product that no sales pitch with its faulty methods of persuasion could SELL to arguably the largest group of saavy consumers in America - MOMS!  That's because the "product" -Common Core - was meant to be consumed by their children and MOMS look closely at any product for their kids. Two major criteria just didn't make the cut: Will it harm them? Will it make them happy?

Since education and Common Core have become products in a free market economy, it's time to hold the owners of the Common Core copyright (CCSSO and NGA)  accountable for quality control and false advertising. Is this just another of Bill Gates' "Microsoft monopolies"? 


http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/the-common-core-pr-war-109460.html#.U9lc6r0gBfE.twitter

The millions have proved no match for the moms.
Supporters of the Common Core academic standards have spent big this past year to persuade wavering state legislators to stick with the new guidelines for math and language arts instruction. Given the firestorm of opposition that took them by surprise, they consider it a victory that just five states, so far, have taken steps to back out.

But in a series of strategy sessions in recent months, top promoters of the standards have concluded they’re losing the broader public debate — and need to devise better PR.

Consider: Conservative commentators Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin held a crackling town hall meeting last week describing the Common Core as a threat to local control of education. The two-hour event was simulcast in 700 movie theaters nationwide and will be rebroadcast Tuesday night in more than 500.
About 10,000 aspiring activists have since downloaded Beck’s “action plan” for defeating the standards. Beck’s slogan, “We will not conform,” is still echoing on Twitter. FreedomWorks, the tea party group that co-sponsored the event, is planning Skype chats to hash out tactics with local activists inspired by the evening.
The response from Common Core backers?
A pair of sedate videos featuring three former Republican governors — one of whom has been out of office for 11 years — sitting in front of a gray backdrop, eyes fixed on a point slightly off camera as they cycled through familiar talking points. And a news release offering quotes from standards supporters, including a fifth-grade teacher in rural Colorado and a Pentecostal preacher from Virginia.

Neither seemed likely to set social media ablaze.
So, backed with fresh funding from philanthropic supporters, including a $10.3 million grant awarded in May from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, supporters are gearing up for a major reboot of the Common Core campaign.
“We’ve been fighting emotion with talking points, and it doesn’t work,” said Mike Petrilli, executive vice president of the Fordham Institute, a leading supporter of the standards. “There’s got to be a way to get more emotional with our arguments if we want to win this thing. That means we have a lot more work to do.”
Step one: Get Americans angry about the current state of public education.
To that end, expect to start hearing from frustrated college students who ended up in remedial classes even though they passed all their state tests and earned good grades in high school. “These kids should be as mad as hell” that the system failed them, Petrilli said.

Expect poignant testimonials, too, from business owners who have tried to hire kids from the local high school only to find they can’t do tasks involving basic math, such as separating out two-thirds of a pile of lumber.
Step two: Get voters excited about the prospects of change. Teachers who like the standards are going to be sharing more concrete examples of benefits they see in their classrooms. Groups representing minority students will likely be more vocal, too. The National Council of La Raza, for instance, is promoting a new video featuring a little girl who credits the standards with teaching her the word “whimsical.”
And there will be a whole lot more from the pro-Common Core side on social media, including Pinterest pages full of student work. A coming Twitter blitz will aim to stir up buzz for a new video that tracks a debate between four people who at first seem to want very different things from their schools — but end up discovering they all support the standards. The video, produced by an Arizona coalition, doesn’t once mention the well-worn talking points “academic rigor” or “international benchmarks.”
“The Common Core message so far has been a head message. We’ve done a good job talking about facts and figures. But we need to move 18 inches south and start talking about a heart message,” said Wes Farno, executive director of the Higher State Standards Partnership, a coalition supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.
The looming PR blitz doesn’t worry Common Core opponents.
“The phrase we use a lot down here in our messaging is ‘putting lipstick on a pig,’” said Karen Effrem, co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition. “You can’t make something that’s so bad look good.”
Some Common Core backers are also dubious.
“There wasn’t a good job of messaging this early on, and I’m not sure those deficits can be addressed,” said Daniel Lautzenheiser, an education analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. Even a fresh approach, he said, might not be enough to “stem the tide of opposition.”
The mommy platoons
Standards supporters say they’re at a huge disadvantage in the PR fight because anytime a child brings home a confusing worksheet, gets a bad grade or stresses out about a test, parents can — and do — blame it on the Common Core. (An anonymous wag satirized that phenomenon with the launch last week of a Twitter feed that blames all the ills of the world on the standards. As in: “The car in front of me didn’t use a blinker. #ThanksCommonCore.”)
Teachers who like the Common Core say it’s revolutionized their classrooms, prodding students to read texts more closely and think more analytically. But it’s hard to convey that in a tweet. Really good sixth-grade essay questions rarely go viral. A nonsensical math problem might, whether or not it truly has anything to do with the Common Core.
Analysts say the opposition also has an edge because it’s tapped into a populist anger that animates both left and right. The self-proclaimed “mommy platoons” organized to take down the standards portray them as an inferior product forced on unsuspecting communities by a cabal of big business and big government elites. Every time supporters come out with sophisticated new promotional material, it only feeds their anger at the big money backing the Common Core, including about $200 million from the Gates Foundation.

Many of the opponents’ claims are misleading or outright false. But their passion leaves an indelible impression.
And until now, Common Core backers have tried to fight it with sober testimony at statehouse hearings and earnest op-eds in the local paper. With a few notable exceptions — like a peppy animated video produced by the Council of the Great City Schools — messaging in support of the standards has been fairly stilted, backers acknowledge with chagrin.

“We joke about it sometimes,” said Richard McKeon, education program director for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, which has directed $3 million in the past few months to bolster communications. The opposition, he says, stirs up waves of populist fury — and supporters “respond with a fact sheet.”
Common Core supporters acknowledge they also erred in publicly belittling opponents as silly, ignorant or outright kooky. “We make a great mistake by caricaturing the opponents of the standards as crazies or people who don’t tell the truth,” David Coleman, an architect of the standards, told Bloomberg EDU recently.
Another misstep: Much of the Common Core outreach to date has been aimed narrowly at politicians, not parents.
Indeed, some of the talking points crafted to win over Republican lawmakers seemed likely to backfire with moms and dads, such as when Billy Canary, president of the Business Council of Alabama, referred to children as “the product created by our education system” and said businesses need schools to start turning out better product.
The lobbying effort has kept 40 states and D.C. committed to the standards, but the Common Core remains a volatile issue in states including Louisiana, Wisconsin and Ohio. More repeal votes are expected in the coming year.
Meanwhile, national polling released in the spring by Achieve Inc., which helped write the standards, found voters more skeptical of the Common Core than they were two years ago. A Pew Research Center report last month found solid opposition among all Republicans, not just tea party members, while support from liberals was fairly anemic, at around 55 percent. And a recent Siena College poll of likely voters in New York state found 49 percent want to drop the standards and only 39 percent want to keep them.
“The bottom line here is that parents need more information, and maybe we haven’t been good enough at telling them the story,” said Karen Nussle, a veteran PR strategist who runs the Collaborative for Student Success.
Ditching the data points
The collaborative is working on the new outreach campaign, drawing on a $14 million annual budget from a number of philanthropies, led by the Gates Foundation.
Other groups are pitching in, too.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is working on an animated website that will pay homage to the playful spirit of children and link the Common Core to that kind of creativity. Vice President Cheryl Oldham boasts that there won’t be a single data point on the site; it’s designed to prompt a visceral, not an intellectual, response.
“We’re so good at all our statistics and data and rational arguments … [but] emotion is what gets people feeling passionate,” Oldham said. “It may not be the most comfortable place for the business community … [but] we need to get better at doing it.”
The pro-Common Core side lacks the star power of the opposition, which has been boosted not just by Beck and Malkin but by comedians like Stephen Colbert and Louis C.K. Former NBA star Isiah Thomas wrote an op-ed supporting the standards, and foundations set up by the actress Eva Longoria and singer John Legend helped fund a pro-Common Core TV ad that ran on Fox News this spring, but none of the three has taken on a highly visible role.
Instead, the new campaign will rely heavily on ordinary people seen as trusted messengers in their local community — teachers, pastors, small-business owners.
“There’s a whole group of people out there who are reasonable and want to talk about a good education for their children. Those are the people we want to reach,” said Carissa Miller, deputy executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which helped write the standards.
Common Core opponents are also updating their PR playbook.
They’re using their social media savvy to disrupt pro-standards outreach. A recent Twitter town hall sponsored by the Learning First Alliance was continually interrupted by the digital equivalent of hecklers who used the chat’s hashtag, #CCSStime, to post photos of confusing Common Core homework and challenge the motivation of those supporting the standards.
Activists are also pushing one another to tone down the wild-eyed rhetoric that has repeatedly cropped up on some websites. They warn newcomers to the cause that even a few outlandish claims make it easy for Common Core backers to dismiss the entire opposition as conspiracy theorists in tinfoil hats.
“The Common Core is so bad, you don’t have to lie,” said Erin Tuttle, co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core. “If you can’t prove what you’re saying, if you can’t back it up with a document or a source, you shouldn’t put it out there.”
In that vein, strategists at the Glenn Beck event told activists to refrain from describing the standards as a communist plot and to steer clear of phrases that might turn off liberals, like comparing the standards to Obamacare. (Not all took the call for moderation to heart: A tweet using Beck’s #wewillnotconform hashtag called Common Core “a page from hitler playbook.”)
Beck’s action plan also urges members of his grass-roots army to actually read the standards they’re critiquing. And it recommends calm, concise presentations.
“You can be angry or effective,” said Brian Glicklich, a crisis communications expert who spoke at the event, “but you can rarely be both at the same time.




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