The folks at Pioneer have landed another blow against Common Core in the mainstream Conservative press. This time Jim Stergios and Jamie Gass have a lengthy piece in the Weekly Standard detailing the start of troubles for Common Core, both substantively and politically. This follows on a piece by Gass and Charles Chieppo in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. A central part of the strategy for Common Core was to create the impression that it was inevitable, so everybody might as well get on board. That aura of inevitability has been shattered.
My reasons for opposing Common Core are slightly different from those articulated by the folks at Pioneer, but we agree on the political analysis of its fate. To become something meaningful Common Core requires more centralization of power than is possible under our current political system. Pushing it forward requires frightening reductions in parental control over education and expansions of federal power. These are not the unnecessary by-products of a misguided Obama Administration over-reach. Constraining parental choice and increasing federal power were entirely necessary to advance Common Core. And they were perfectly foreseeable (we certainly foresaw these dangers here at JPGB).
There is something either disingenuous or shockingly naive about the Fordham Institute’s horror at discovering federal involvement in the push for Common Core. And it is equally disingenuous or naive for conservative curriculum backers of Common Core to suddenly discover that the new regime may be more progressive nonsense rather than their fantasy of the triumph of E.D. Hirsch. We warned folks that federal coercion was central to the success of Common Core. And we warned folks that national standards would ultimately advance the preferences of entrenched education special interests rather than those of reformers.
Rather than heeding these warnings or hedging their bets, these “conservative” backers of Common Core have doubled down in their support. Checker in his customary high-handed style has tried to dismiss critics as crazy so that their legitimate objections need not be taken seriously. The opponents just consist of “tea party activists, a couple of influential talk-radio hosts and bloggers, some disgruntled academics, several conservative think-tanks, and a couple of mysterious but deep-pocketed funders.”
Well, there’s no mystery about the deep-pocketed funder behind Common Core as the Gates Foundation continues to hand the Fordham Institute large bags of cash. And to help solve the mystery of who is funding the opponents, I confess that I personally paid for the K12innovation.com web site. But because my pockets are not quite as deep as the Gates Foundation, I just let the registration for that web site run out.
Here’s a pro-tip for Checker and Common Core’s deep-pocketed backers… As opposition to Common Core grows in state legislatures and schools around the country, don’t dismiss those critics as crazies from your perch in DC. The federal takeover of education has not yet been completed, so local and state politicians and educators still control the fate of Common Core. Right now it appears they have no stomach to implement Common Core in any meaningful way. Some may pause it. Some may repeal it. And some may leave it on the books but promptly ignore it just like a host of previous reform fads. You can’t win these people over and successfully implement Common Core with a strategy that funds DC think-tanks to denounce the folks in the hinterland as a bunch of hicks and boobs who believe in crazy black helicopter conspiracies.
And here’s another pro-tip… If you don’t want people to believe in crazy black helicopter conspiracies, you shouldn’t fly around in black helicopters. Local and state politicians and educators might have reason to suspect federal power grabs as the federal government grabs power to expand Common Core. Saying that this was unnecessary and unfortunate and that states continue to control education does not change the reality of what is happening.
Reality exists outside of DC receptions and the words we use. And the reality is that the backlash against national standards is real and gaining momentum. It is inevitable that the Common Core bus will drive over a political cliff, just as previous failed efforts to nationalize education standards have. Because true conservatives believe in personal responsibility, let’s hope we all remember who was driving the bus and cheering it forward.