Consider the following list of heavy weight conservatives who are opposing Common Core Standards:
Phyllis Schlafly – Author, constitutional lawyer and activist
Glenn Beck – Radio talk show host, author, former FOX News show host, founder of TheBlaze TV Network and Magazine
George Will – FOX News contributor, author, syndicated columnist for the Washington Post
Michelle Malkin – Author, syndicated columnist, founder of websites Hot Air and Twitchy
Another one can be added. Former special assistant and speechwriter for president Ronald Reagan and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan offered the following this week:
The people who developed and created Common Core need to look now at themselves. Who is responsible for the nonsensical test questions? Who oversees the test makers? Do the questions themselves reflect the guidance given to teachers—i.e., was the teaching itself nonsensical? How was implementation of the overall scheme supposed to work? Who decided the way to take on critics was to denigrate parents, who supposedly don’t want their little darlings to be revealed as non-geniuses, and children, who supposedly don’t want to learn anything? Who among these serious people chose sarcasm as a strategy? Who decided the high-class pushback against the pushback should be defensive and dismissive? Did anyone bother to get actual parents in on the planning and development? Were women there, and mothers? Maybe parents with kids in the public school system? Who even picked the ugly name—Common Core sounds common, except to the extent to which it sounds Soviet. Maybe it was the people who dreamed up the phrase “homeland security.”
The irony is that Core proponents’ overall objective—to get schools teaching more necessary and important things, and to encourage intellectual coherence in what is taught—is not bad, but good. Why they thought the answer was federal, I mean national, and not local is beyond me. Since patronizing people you disagree with is all the rage, I’ll have a go. The Common Core establishment appears to be largely led by people who are well-educated, well-meaning, accomplished and affluent, and who earnestly desire to help those in less fortunate circumstances, but who simply don’t know enough about normal people—how they live, how they think—to have made a success of it. Also they don’t seem to know that intelligent Americans, exactly the kind who quickly become aware of and respond to new federal schemes—sorry, I meant national ones—have become very, very wary of Washington, and the dreams of its eggheads. How they could have missed that is also beyond me.
Noonan’s rhetorical questions which mock “nonsensical test questions” and aloud wondering about “who oversees the test makers” is the latest example of a top conservative assailing the industrial testing complex. She also absolves the nation’s teachers of blame with “do the questions themselves reflect the guidance given to teachers—i.e., was the teaching itself nonsensical?”
Noonan remarkably avoided the typical republican jab at teacher’s unions. Neither did Malkin in a column she posted yesterday in her blog in which she wrote about the defeat of establishment republican candidates in red-state Indiana:
Tuesday’s Republican primary elections in the Hoosier state resulted in the landslide defeat of two establishment incumbents running for statewide re-election. Pence had endorsed GOP State Rep. Kathy Heuer over challenger Christopher Judy. Pence’s Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann had endorsed GOP State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki over challenger Curt Nisly. The incumbents enjoyed the support of the Common Core-promoting U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
These same Big Business elites backed Pence’s ploy to stave off grassroots parental opposition by “withdrawing” from Common Core — and then immediately adopting “new” standards that recycle the same old rotten ones. (See my April 30 column, “Big Government GOP’s Common Core Rebrand Hustle.”) As Hoosier mom Erin Tuttle put it, Pence’s stunt “gave the appearance of voiding the Common Core, while the Indiana Department of Education and the Center for Education and Career Innovation walked it through the backdoor.”
Challengers Judy and Nisly made their opponents’ refusal to help end Common Core in the state a central issue. Hoosiers Against Common Core, led by moms Tuttle and Heather Crossin, endorsed the dark-horse challengers. With little money and scant press attention, they beat Pence’s machine by astonishingly wide margins: Judy ousted Heuer 57-43; Nisly defeated Kubacki 65-35. (See also Joy Pullman, “Anti Common Core Candidates Trounce Indiana Incumbents in Primaries.”)
Malkin refers to Indiana’s “rebranding and repackaging” of Common Core as “cut and paste” rewrite of Indiana’s academic standards overseen by D.C. Common Core operatives.” Florida did that, too. Only we call them “tweaks.”
The trouble for republican politicians is that republican voters are often skeptical of what republican pols tell them. Especially when they understand that money and power brokering are involved in influencing policy. Republican voters will take notice that people like Beck, Malkin, Will, Schlafly and Noonan are disagreeing with Jeb Bush on Common Core.