What’s the definition of a gaffe again? When a politician accidentally says what he really thinks:
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a group of state schools superintendents Friday that he found it “fascinating” that some of the opposition to the Common Core State Standards has come from “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.”
I haven’t written much about Common Core because I honestly haven’t studied the issue enough. They are set of national standards — long on the Left’s education wish list — that most states have accepted. Except that they seem unrealistic. I haven’t just heard this from opponents of top down education, I’ve heard it from pediatricians, teachers and parents who believe the material is not developmentally appropriate — meaning they’re pushing young kids too fast (see details linked in the above article and here). I live in a college town with excellent schools and the teachers here are very worried that they will not be able to teach Common Core. You can imagine what it’s like in the inner cities.
Fundamentally, Common Core just sounds wrong. Imposing a one-size-fits-all education model sounds good to an technocratic fool like Duncan, who sees children and parents and simply interchangeable parts of a massive system. But to anyone who has actually taught in classroom (Duncan hasn’t), it sounds insane. It’s great if a kid can learn fractions by third grade but not all kids can. Even kids who have mathematical skill may bloom late.
Common Core also crosses me as a politico’s misunderstanding of how the world works. It’s not unusual to challenge employees or divisions to meet ambitious goals. But you do not throw those challenges out at divisions that are already failing. Many schools in this country aren’t even teaching the basics. But Common Core will … I dunno .. make them raise their game? In a way that, say, school choice wouldn’t? One suspects, given the strong union support, part of the goal is that the schools will fail Common Core and this failure will be used to demand more funding. The Obama Administration has already made noises about year-round schooling (ignoring that countries with year-round schooling have shorter school days). We all know the way people Duncan and Obama think: there isn’t a fundamental failure that can’t be overcome by more money, more hours and less freedom.
In any case, putting Common Core aside, the arrogance and condescension of Duncan’s remark is simply stunning, a peek at what this man — who has made a lot of education noise with little actual success — thinks. If we think his beloved Common Core is too aggressive or inappropriate, it’s because we are whiny little bitches who don’t realize how stupid our kids really are and how glorious his plans for them are.