Even Arne Duncan's "Apology" for Insulting Common Core Opponents Is Condescending

Arne DuncanArne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary
of Education, had a moment of brutal honesty the other day. He
immediately walked it back, of course, because when politicians
occasionally let slip the impatience and contempt they feel for
their constituents, it’s usually a good idea to fake a little
contrition lest their careers suffer. But he condescendingly lashed
out at “white suburban moms” for rebelling against Common Core
education standards, saying it’s because their feelings are hurt
when their kids don’t score as well as they once did. Thanks for
letting the mask slip, Arne, and revealing your disdain for anybody
who might insist on leeway in educating their own kids.

Duncan spoke to a meeting of the Council of Chief State
Schools Officers Organization,
and said

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.
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.

Not surprisingly, Duncan’s remarks were reported and pissed off
pretty much everybody. Even Randi Weingarten, president of the
American Federation of Teacher, and a Common Core supporter,

that “The ‘father knows best’ attitude for our kids,
which is the sentiment it conveyed, had no place in the 1950s, much
less 2013.”

In fact, as
I’ve written
, there are a variety of good reasons to object to
the imposition of rigid standards on a nation populated by people
of varying philosophies, backgrounds, and abilities. My wife, a
pediatrician, is among those objecting that younger children are
pushed beyond their developmental abilities. Can some kids work at
that level? Sure. But to set it as a standard is a recipe for
disappointment and failure.

Advocates of alternative educational approaches, including
Montessori and Waldorf, find their approaches severely hemmed-in by
the rigid benchmarks imposed by Common Core—and which apply even to
charter schools, compromising their advertised independence.

And the standards are test-heavy, which doesn’t play well with
those who prefer lower-stress education. They’re also wildly
centralized, for a system nominally initiated by state

Duncan has previously peddled that top-down rigidity as a
saying in June of this year
, “Today, the child of a Marine
officer, who is transferred from Camp Pendleton in California to
Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, will be able to make that academic
transition without a hitch, instead of having to start over in a
widely different place academically.”

Sounds handy—except that such plug-and-play education is
possible only if schools are so tightly structured that textbook
pages are turning in near unison. We’re not all looking for
plug-and-play education—many of us have our own plans for our

I wrote earlier that Duncan apologized for his comments. That’s
not exactly true. On the Department of Education blog, he basically

slapped himself on the wrist for calling out one group
of everybody who objects to top-down standardization.

As a parent of two children in public school, I know no one
enjoys hearing tough news from school, but we need the truth – and
we need to act on it. The truth is we should be frustrated that as
students, parents, and citizens, we’ve been hiding the educational
reality, particularly as other countries are rapidly passing us by
in preparing their students for today and tomorrow’s economy.
However, we should use this passion to say that the status quo is
not acceptable and that we want more for all students.

That’s still control-freak condescension from a a man who has
almost single-handedly put the lie to the idea that Common Core is
a state-led effort with his federal prodding in favor of the
standards. Maybe we can let him have his condescension if he’ll let
us control the education of our own children.

Enjoy the video below of a New York teacher accusing officials
imposing Common Core of “child abuse.”

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/19/even-arne-duncans-apology-for-insulting

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