Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, November 18, 2013

Arne Duncan Doesn't Get To Frame The Common Core Debate

Excellent piece by Stephanie Simon in Politico on the fallout from Arne Duncan's "Common Core opponents are just white suburban moms who have discovered their kids aren't as brilliant as they thought" attack.

Simon writes that Duncan and other Common Core proponents are frustrated because the debate over Common Core has splintered into different fights in different localities over different issues:

To the immense frustration of Common Core supporters, an eclectic array of critics have raised sustained and impassioned objections about the new standards. From New York to Florida to Michigan to Louisiana, their voices are so loud and their critiques so varied that they have muddied the narrative around Common Core. It’s no longer a focused national debate about high standards; it’s hundreds of local debates, about everything from student privacy rights to cursive handwriting to computerized testing to the value of Shakespeare.

Over the summer, Duncan complained that opponents were “fringe groups” who make “outlandish claims” about “really wacky stuff” such as “mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping.” There is undoubtedly some of that.

But there are also substantive critiques from all corners. Catholic scholars say the standards aren’t rigorous enough. Early childhood experts say they demand too much. Liberals complain the Common Core opens the door to excessive testing. Conservatives complain it opens the door to federal influence in local schools. Teachers don’t like the new textbooks. Parents don’t like the new homework.

And some critics sense a conspiracy, suggesting that the difficult Common Core tests are designed to make public schools look so bad that parents everywhere — including white, suburban moms — will rush to embrace charter schools, cyber schools, vouchers and other models that turn public education over to private entrepreneurs.

There was a time when education reformers could just attack critics as teachers union shills or fringe people on the left and right and get away with it.

But no longer.

In NY State, one of two states that has already switched state test alignments to the Common Core State Standards, the criticism and opposition to the Core is coming from parents in suburban districts who are pissed at the plummeting scores their children received on the tests, pissed at the absurdity of some of the Common Core lessons and modules that are being taught, pissed at all the test prep that is forced on teachers by the new evaluation system and pissed that the state wants to hand sensitive student information over to Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch.

These are not people that can be marginalized as fringe elements, no matter how much Commissioner King tries to do it with his "special interests" statement or Arne Duncan tries to do it with his "white suburban moms" attack.
The frustration we're seeing from the reformers these days, frustration that is playing out in stupid comments like Duncan's or claims that John King is under attack because he is black, stems from the lack of control reformers now have over the debate.
In the past, they controlled the debate, got their message out over friendly corporate-owned airwaves and in friendly corporate-owned newspapers.
They had friendly corporate-owned politicians backing them up on the reforms and everybody was talking the same language and issuing the same talking points.
But they lost control of the debate sometime in the past year, even some of the corporate-owned media is beginning to cover the fight over the Common Core and other reforms with something other than the "crazies vs. sane people" frame they've been giving these stories in the past, and the politicians in NY State have begun to run for cover as parents are showing up at town halls and telling them they will take out their frustration on their legislators next election.
It's too this makes Arne sad, but just because he's a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of the Gates Foundation and he's used to getting his way on everything in these reform debates doesn't mean the public can't eventually take back the power to oppose the reform agenda on their own terms.
That's what's happening now and reformers from Arne Duncan to John King to Tim Daly of the New Teacher Project are showing their frustration with their stupid comments and statements.


  1. Obama has a bunch of arrogant idiots appointed to important Cabinet posts. He should dump Duncan and Sibelius. What is he waiting for? An apology that doesn't cut it? The last time I saw a collection of knuckleheads like this was a MIS-II class I had back in the '90's, and they had a more solid handle on ethics!

    1. As Harry Truman said, the buck stops with the president. If Duncan and Sibelius are incompetent, they were hired by Obama himself. He's the head incompetent, the way i see it. I'm sure he doesn't see it that way, but health care reform and education reform are his two signature policies and they're both going down in flames.

  2. Duncan and Obama in truth represent fringe groups on education, on healthcare, on international policies, on domestic surveillance of citizens. They live according to their own code of narcissism. They do not value the democratic system.

    1. That certainly is the case with many politicians and business people these days - autocratic rule is the way they run things.

  3. You know the movement has hit pay-dirt when the New York Times wakes up to the fact that parents are mad as hell and aren't taking it anymore.
    Yet they couldn't resist repeating the reformy TNTP guy's allegation that anti-Common Core parents are racist for getting upset with King.