Thursday, April 18, 2013

GOP Revolt Against the Common Core Hailed by Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Phyllis Schlafly, and Diane Ravitch

It’s not enough, apparently, for Republicans (and a few Democrats) to thwart reasonable gun control and immigration reform in order to keep conservative voters and lobbyists happy. Now they’re all over the Common Core State Standards which aspire to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.”

Never mind that the Common Core is a state-led effort to implement research-based, internationally-benchmarked standards for all kids, regardless of zip code or socio-economic status. Here’s part of the Republican National Committee’s Resolution, released this week:
RESOLUTION CONCERNING COMMON CORE EDUCATION STANDARDS 
WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of academic standards, promoted and supported by two private membership organizations, the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as a method for conforming American students to uniform (“one size fits all”) achievement goals to make them more competitive in a global marketplace, (1.) and… 
WHEREAS, the CCSS program includes federally funded testing and the collection and sharing of massive amounts of personal student and teacher data, and… 
RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee recognizes the CCSS for what it is– an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived “normal,” and, be it further… 
RESOLVED, the 2012 Republican Party Platform specifically states the need to repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, (p36) (3.); and therefore, the Republican National Committee rejects this CCSS plan which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement.
I’m sure the RNC is thrilled with the reaction from its staunchest followers. Here’s a sampling:
  • Glenn Beck’s description of the Common Core:  “This is like some really spooky, sci-fi, Gattaca kind of thing.” (He also announced that he will no longer send his children to college because it will make them “part of the system that is coming.”)
  • Michelle Malkin: "Thanks to grass-roots activism, limited-government think tanks, whistle-blowing educators and bloggers, vigilant local and state legislators, and tireless parents committed to protecting their children, the truth about federalized Common Core standards is spreading. Every voice counts. Glenn Beck and his team at The Blaze have done invaluable work exposing the corrupt, privacy-undermining Fed Ed scheme to a wider audience. Glenn and I have been under fire for joining education watchdogs and shedding light on the Common Core racket. Predictably, all of us Common Core opponents who challenge the constitutionality, effectiveness, conflicts of interest have been mocked and attacked as conspiracy-mongers and extremists."
  • Phyllis Schlafly: “Obama Core [her moniker for the Common Core] is a comprehensive plan to dumb down schoolchildren so they will be obedient servants of the government and probably to indoctrinate them to accept the leftwing view of America and its history.”
It’s just so Tea Party. In fact, a quick google search yielded countless (well, I didn’t count them) local organizations expressing conviction that the Common Core is a sleight-of-hand conspiracy to undermine local control. Check out, for instance, Pennsylvanians Against Common Core, Stop Common Core, Hoosiers Against Common Core, Floridians Against Common Core, Utahans Against Common Core. A typical comment from Kory Harvey of the Dickson County (TN) Tea Party on the prospects of a national curriculum: ““That’s what parents are for,” said Harvey. “We are believers in individualism, and I don’t believe in collectivism at all in any form.”

The Republican leadership has an awfully short memory. Just after Barack Obama crushed Mitt Romney at the polls, party leaders were tripping over themselves to get to the microphones first and vow a newly-envisioned GOP that welcomed minorities and poor people,who happen to be those who would most benefit from the Common Core. Here’s a really good piece by Ramesh Ponnuru in the National Review a week after the election:
The first thing conservatives should understand about the electoral catastrophe that just befell us -- and it was a catastrophe -- is that any explanation of it that centers on Mitt Romney is mistaken... Romney was not a drag on the Republican party. The Republican party was a drag on him.
The backlash against the Common Core (and the adjunctive assessments; see Alabama, where Republican legislators just repealed adoption of the curricula in spite of a new poll that shows that 75% of Alabamans disagree with them) is driven by the same sentiment that hamstrung Romney (to the extent that he didn’t hamstring himself) and by the same constituency that, early in the process, eliminated stronger candidates and a more inclusive platform 

You  know you’ve got a problem when  your biggest applause comes from Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, and Phyllis Schafley. Way to widen the big tent, guys.

One aside: we all know that education politics produces strange bedfellows, but what to make of famous “liberal” education historian Diane Ravitch’s remark on the Common Core?
Such standards, I believe, should be voluntary, not imposed by the federal government; before implemented widely, they should be thoroughly tested to see how they work in real classrooms; and they should be free of any mandates that tell teachers how to teach because there are many ways to be a good teacher, not just one.
Whoa! Beck, Malkin, Schlafley, and Ravitch. Talk about your dream team.

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