In the (Hot) Light of Day, Another Thought on Yesterday's GOP Education Summit

Yesterday we heard a substantive and reasonable discussions of hot-button education issues at  the The74/American Federation for Children education summit for GOP candidates in New Hampshire, but that’s because:

1) The crazies didn’t show up.
2) We didn’t hear deal-breaking mummeries on  immigration reform, abortion rights, same-sex marriage, or even way-out statements like eliminating the Department of Education.  Moderator Campbell Brown insisted on serious dialogue, not soundbites.

So maybe that’s why I found the discussions so invigorating and refreshing. But reality intrudes.

Yesterday the New York Times reported that Donald Trump is continuing to push the Republican presidential field further right on with immigration (something along the lines of #AryanLivesMatter) but you can’t blame British Rail for that. And, of course, it’s awfully hard in the light of day to take Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindal seriously when they insist they’re for higher standards yet disparage the higher-standards, state-sponsored package called Common Core.

They’ll pay the cost, both in campaign contributions and credibility. For example, yesterday’s Wall St. Journal describes Christie’s loss of financial support from Mike Lilley, head of the New Jersey-based B4K and a former Goldman Sachs bond trader, who said that Christie’s “denunciation of Common Core was one of a number of reasons he is now backing Mr. Bush.”

Speaking [full disclosure] as a Democrat, the GOP leadership’s demand for fealty to this fossilized ideal of states’ rights, damn the kids, is inconsistent with any realistic strategy for winning next November.  Talk about a Pyrrhic victory! Win the support of the Eagle Forum and the Badass Teachers Association (and other rebel outposts of NEA and AFT) but lose the election.

The only way presidential candidates on either side of the aisle can swear allegiance to this misbegotten cult of local control is by disregarding the fact that only 9% of low income students graduate from college and disregarding  America’s major civil rights organizations, which gather strength as the country’s demographics variegate. These organizations steadfastly call for keeping the Common Core (or the Common Core by another name), issuing annual aligned standardized assessments, and maintaining federal oversight.

In fact, the Democratic presidential candidates, who will have their own education summit in October (co-sponsored by The74 and the Des Moines Register), will grapple with the same problem. Do they kowtow to special interests (Tea Party-ists, union hacks) on education issues or do they plan to represent the  plurality of Americans?