February 17, 2015


Suburbia and Its Common Core Conspiracy Theories : Why middle-class white parents are up in arms about the new standards (LAURA MCKENNAFEB 12 2015, The Atlantic)

Among the most vocal opponents to the new standards are conservative, Tea Party Republicans, who are ideologically opposed to any expansion of the federal government--something they inaccurately equate to the Common Core initiative. And these politically motivated critics, who have rallied against a national system of learning standards for decades, have their own conspiracy theories about the Common Core, too. These include claims that the the standards will turn students gay, that it preaches an anti-American agenda, and that Muslim Brotherhood and communists shaped the content.

Complicating matters, other state-level politicians have fought against a uniform system of standards and tests because they're wary of seeing how the kids in their turf stack up against children elsewhere. No Child Left Behind did little to unify learning systems across the states, and what remains are essentially 50 different sets of standards and 50 different systems for measuring achievement. That makes it all but impossible to compare test results in, say, Connecticut and Texas. And with the huge variations in how much states spend on education, it seems illogical to assume that kids across the nation, regardless of where they reside, will perform equally well on a test such as the PARCC.

Now, amid all the backlash, an unlikely subculture appears to be emerging in the anti-Common Core world: suburban parents. Even U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has taken note of the trend, who last November told a group of superintendents that "white suburban moms" were resisting the implementation of the Common Core. His theory? "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."

I happen to live in a middle-class suburb outside of New York City--one that could easily be considered the capital of "white suburban moms." And I'm realizing Duncan was on to something: Their wrath is real, and it's based largely on misperception and widespread fearmongering perpetuated by the Tea Party skeptics and anxious state policymakers.

My friends and neighbors post links almost daily on Facebook to articles claiming the Common Core "curriculum," as they perceive it, is destroying American youth. It has single-handedly taken recess away from kids, they argue. The upcoming tests demoralize kids and teachers. The new curricula and tests are an assault on an otherwise idyllic world where kids used to learn naturally--like those lucky children in Finland. Instead of actually instilling knowledge in students, teachers drill irrelevant facts into kids' heads in order to game the testing results. And since the new exams will be taken on computers, hackers might even reveal the test results to colleges.

While there may be elements of truth in some of those parents' fears, these protests have developed an irrational, hysterical bent. 

..paranoid rightwingers, hysterical women and their dumb kids.  It's the valiant last defense of Lake Woebegone....

Posted by at February 17, 2015 2:34 PM

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