The public parental eruption against the deceitfully named Common Core State Standards taking place across New York State and elsewhere has generated not only plenty of press but, in the past few days alone, a couple of incredible statements from suddenly on-the-ropes defenders of the standards. These statements, grotesques and weasel worded as can be, have led to “he- said- what!”- like moments from sea to shining sea.
The first is the instantly infamous statement by a “fascinated” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who said the following: “It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said. “You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”
A punch in the gut, indeed.
Of much lesser note but of similar train of thought were the following words from Timothy Daly, the president of the New Teacher Project, a group, according to the New York Times, “focused on teacher effectiveness and aligned with the reform movement.” Daly is commenting on the ceaseless display of parental outrage directed at New York State Commissioner John King, a ceaseless proponent of the Common Core who happens to be an African American. For Daly, the last fact seems to be the major factor if not the only factor in the parental rage and disgust.
“This is the first African-American leader of the State Education Department,” Daly said. “And to watch him be shouted at and insulted by largely white audiences in the suburbs is discomforting and it is jarring that, not only has it happened, but it has happened repeatedly.”
King himself sees no such causation and was good enough to say so publicly.
Both Duncan and Daly begin and end from the standpoint held by (or pretended to be held by) all reformers: that is of the absolute inerrancy of the CCSS. To them, the CCSS is a document created by souls so divinely inspired and all knowing that they had no problem whatsoever requiring state commissioners to sign on to their standards before they were even written; to them this is a document so perfectly executed that not a single article within it, not as much as a comma, can be altered once “adopted” by a state; to them this is a document so wise and prescient, so supernaturally imbued, it required no field testing of any kind before being imposed on the children of an entire nation. To them, that is, though they would never use such language, the Common Core State Standards, like the Bible or the Koran in the eyes of certain religious fundamentalists, are infallible.
To even question the sacred standards, then, is to blaspheme.
This, at least, is the manner in which the CCSS have been presented to the public, and this the manner with which they have been rammed down the throats of American teachers who are obliged to ram them down the throats of American children. The CCSS are to be understood as perfect unto themselves Accordingly, any and all problems with them merely expose secret fears (like Duncan’s white mom discovering her child’s hidden mediocrity) and spiritual failings (like Daly’s charges of suburban racism against Commissioner John King rather than rage over what King’s policies were doing to their children) that are to be overcome with love and kindness and perhaps some Professional Development.
And herein lies the problem with presenting your product as perfect from the womb and imposing it on the children of a nation when the parents of those children begin to take notice. You cannot possibly defend it. You have nothing to fall back on. No research. No evidence. No data. ( Second in sacrality only to the Common Core itself in education reform land ) No nothing.
There is only
rhetoric and public relations campaigns and full-page ads by the Business Round Table and the Chamber of Commerce and the like.
And only time before parents begin to understand the CCSS as a vast billion-dollar experiment with their children –in short, a shyster’s gamble with their children.
And that time, it seems, has come.
From this standpoint both the statements of Duncan and Daly are absolutely appalling and completely apposite. They have no other card to play. They cannot defend their beloved CCSS with anything of substance because they have nothing of substance on which to defend it. Theirs is a faith based education policy that dare not let that be known. Their only hope is to attack and attempt to de-legitimize the concerns and character of all in their path. We should expect more such obscene statements. And we should welcome them for they expose the vast con being played on American families and their children — not to mention the taxpayers.
The reformers have no where else to go. Falsehoods can only beget more falsehoods.
And with every such statement more and more people will begin to glimpse the truth about how education reformers really see America’s children. And therein lies our hope.