They say that if you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas. If that’s so, progressive critics of the Common Core State Standards may find themselves doing some scratching.
Stephanie Simon reports for Politico that the Koch brothers and other right-wing power brokers have jumped on the anti-Common Core cause as part of an effort to undermine public education:
What started as a ragtag opposition led by a handful of angry moms is now a sophisticated national movement supported by top donors and strategists on the right. Conservative groups say their involvement already has paid dividends in the form of new members and troves of email addresses.
But that’s just the start.
A draft action plan by the advocacy group FreedomWorks lays out the effort as a series of stepping stones: First, mobilize to strike down the Common Core. Then push to expand school choice by offering parents tax credits or vouchers to help pay tuition at private and religious schools. Next, rally the troops to abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Then it’s on to eliminating teacher tenure.
Opposition to Common Core has been catnip to tea-party types because … well, apparently because President Obama supports the standards. Maybe that’s not entirely fair, but it’s certainly true that Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and their ilk have been rallying the troops by claiming Common Core is a take-over by the big, bad federal government.
But a lot of CCSS opposition on the left seems also to lack subtlety: Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee and Jeb Bush support the standards, so they must be bad. Also, progressives worry the standards will lead to more standardized testing and high-stakes accountability.
Simon’s story produced a dust-up on social media, with some folks apparently suggesting CCSS opponents on the left were being “played” and opponents defending themselves, maybe a bit defensively.
The problem is that most of us don’t have time to get familiar with the standards – and even if we did, we’d have trouble evaluating whether they are good or bad, or better or worse than the alternatives. It’s hard to know what to think, so we pick sides.
For instance, some critics argue the standards lack rigor and will “dumb down” education; others say they’re impossibly stringent and designed to make schools and students fail. Both can’t be right. People who take opposite positions are joining to fight Common Core.
Education Week’s Andrew Ujifusa identifies Indiana as a potential hot spot for anti-Common Core activity and notes that some legislators’ “zeal for repeal will likely burn hot.” Hoosier lawmakers are sure to get an earful from anti-CCSS zealots on the right.
Indiana’s chief Common Core supporter is the state Chamber of Commerce. Usually it gets what it wants from the Republican-controlled legislature. But probably not this time.