We knew all this about the tea party agenda, of course, because the tail on this dog is wagging away here in New Hampshire. But here is Politico breaking the story open with a long report detailing the role opposition to the Common Core plays in the larger tea party strategy to privatize 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.
“This is going to be a huge campaign,” said Whitney Neal, the group’s director of grass-roots activism. She plans to kick it off within weeks with a series of videos that will “connect the dots” between killing Common Core and enacting other conservative priorities.
The campaign will build to a march on Washington this summer, perhaps in partnership with radio host Glenn Beck. “This is definitely an institutional priority for us in 2014,” she said. “We’re putting a lot of time and resources into it.”
“The grass-roots support for this is stronger than for anything else we work on,” Fieler said. “This is an issue with great political promise.”
That same political calculation is evident in FreedomWorks’ draft plan for an Educational Freedom Campaign. Picking up the mantle of parental rights “casts a passionate and caring light on our activists — different from the image currently portrayed by media,” the draft states. The campaign also offers a rare chance to attract new members from outside the tea party — “especially minority communities.”
Already, the strategy is paying off. FreedomWorks started the year in contact with a few dozen stalwart foes of the standards; it now holds weekly strategy sessions with more than 200. “Common Core is bringing in people who are brand-new to activism. They’re coming out of the woodwork,” Neal said. “That’s huge for us.”
Parents who teach their children at home aren’t directly affected by the new standards but fear they will face pressure to follow them when most textbooks, not to mention the SAT, are aligned to Common Core. Homeschoolers also sense an opportunity to grow their ranks by fanning anger at the public education system.
The anti-Common Core movement so far has been about saying “no” to the standards, “but at some point soon, we’ll have to define what ‘yes’ is — and school choice is a perfect ‘yes’ for people to galvanize around,” said Jim Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank.
Read the whole thing here: For right, Common Core fight prelude to bigger agenda – Stephanie Simon – POLITICO.com.
The Pioneer Institute is, of course, the primary resource New Hampshire’s Common Core opponents have drawn upon for their talking points.
I believe this article underscores the need to understand the risk we face as a nation if opposition to the Common Core from the Tea Party and affiliated groups succeed in splintering public education into thousands of private enclaves, intentionally blind to the common purposes of schooling for life in a democracy and willfully disdainful of systems designed to ensure and improve quality at all levels of education. All the more need to be vigilant, I say, that supporters of public education do not become their own worst enemy.
From a number of your other posts on the subject, you have nearly convinced me that we little to fear on that score in New Hampshire. Our policies and approach to implementing the Common Core across the board reflect a strong historical perspective on reform and the reasons for its failures in the past – largely related to the well-documented conditions that prevent teachers from doing what they believe can and should be done to improve the learning of their students. To the extent, however, that the image, reputation, associated methodologies, related assessment practices, etc. of other states’ implementation of the Common Core eventually end up exerting an influence on the attitudes and actions of New Hampshire teachers, we have cause for worry that the Tea Party could be joined, at least in spirit, by public school educators near and far.
Anthony Cody posts an example of a Chicago principal’s memo on limiting bathroom access by students to ensure the greatest amount of instructional time, implicitly for teaching the Common Core. A portion of the memo gave specifications for “bulletin boards”:
“Bulletin Boards should reflect the academic rigor and the differentiated instruction of the Common Core State Standards that are taking place in the classroom and school. Bulletin board work should pertain to the appropriate grade level subject matter being taught. They should spotlight student work and be attractive, stimulating learning stimuli – not mere decoration. No worksheets are allowed and avoid commercial materials. In addition, each bulletin board must have an “I Can” statement in student-friendly language, rubric, specific feedback, title, and a brief (2-3 sentences) description of the activity that took place to produce the work. Classroom bulletin boards should have current work (nothing past 2 weeks).”
Say what you will about the intent of this memo to align school practices with the more rigorous standards of the CCSS, and it should also be noted that the school is at risk of closing if test scores do not improve (as they almost certainly will not). Nonetheless, if we begin to see examples of this kind of technocratic leadership in New Hampshire, or if such an example becomes commonplace throughout the nation, we open a huge breach in the line we’re trying to hold in public education. What can we do to prevent this from happening?
I would say that the potential for bad leadership at some future point in NH and other states is independent of the Common Core but is indeed the fundamental nationwide threat to American public education. The whole education reform/privatization debate we are having is damaging in itself, day by day.
Yes, the written words on a page are, in a sense, independent from the play as performed on the stage by actual human beings. But aren’t we talking about the performance and not just the words on the page, and isn’t inspired leadership part and parcel of what counts in the short and long run: the quality of the experience? Another way to state my concern is that if the Common Core goes awry because of technocratic styles of leadership in its implementation, where does reform go next? Off, off Broadway?
Read Andy Hargreaves. He’s got the answers. It’s complicated, though.
Dagnabbit! I guess we should have thought of that at the beginning. Now we’re already into the first act!