It was easy for everyone to dismiss the early opposition to Common Core Standards as crack-pot tea party stuff when it came from Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck. To be sure, the references to communism were over-the-top, but the arguments based on concerns regarding federal control and data sharing still have merit. The early surge of opposition did indeed come from tea party groups but it was mocked and marginalized by the nation’s largely leftward-leaning media. But the time has arrived to recognize that mainstream republican voices have joined the opposition. Consider this from syndicated columnist George Will:
The rise of opposition to the Common Core illustrates three healthy aspects of today’s politics. First, new communication skills and technologies enable energized minorities to force new topics onto the political agenda. Second, this uprising of local communities against state capitals, the nation’s capital and various muscular organizations (e.g., the Business Roundtable, the Chamber of Commerce, teachers unions, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) demonstrates that although the public agenda is malleable, a sturdy portion of the public is not.
Third, political dishonesty has swift, radiating and condign consequences. Opposition to the Common Core is surging because Washington, hoping to mollify opponents, is saying, in effect: “If you like your local control of education, you can keep it. Period.” To which a burgeoning movement is responding: “No. Period.”
Will, no tea party shill, writes that the Obama administration has “purchased state’s obedience” on Core with Race to the Top and lambastes Core’s supporters – many of whom he frequently agrees politically.
Many proponents seem to deem it beneath their dignity to engage opponents’ arguments, preferring to caricature opponents as political primitives and to dismiss them with flippancies such as this from Bill Gates: “It’s ludicrous to think that multiplication in Alabama and multiplication in New York are really different.” What is ludicrous is Common Core proponents disdaining concerns related to this fact: Fifty years of increasing Washington input into K-12 education has coincided with disappointing cognitive outputs from schools. Is it eccentric that it is imprudent to apply to K-12 education the federal touch that has given us HealthCare.gov
Will isn’t alone on an island . National Review is the nation’s preeminent conservative magazine and posted opinion piece yesterday titled Opposing Common Core. Pacific Research Institute education studies director Lance T. Izumi finished his take-down of Core this way:
The broad-based grassroots rebellion against Common Core is ultimately not about academic rigor, costs, or job skills, as important as those issues are, but about transparency, democracy, and the ability of local people to control what goes on in their children’s classrooms — an ability the nation’s founders envisioned when they left education to states and localities through the Tenth Amendment. To the chagrin of establishment elites, the rebellion is gaining momentum and may end up toppling Common Core, which would be a victory both for the people and for the principles on which our republic was founded.
After iconic CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite closed a special 1968 report on the Viet Nam war with a call for a negotiated settlement, President Lyndon B. Johnson is famously rumored to have said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Will and National Review represent mainstream republican thinking, and Core’s republican “establishment elites” have lost them.