Arne Duncan blames irrational angst of ‘white suburban moms’ for Common Core pushback

Eric Owens | Editor

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan insisted that “white suburban moms” are to blame for the unrelenting opposition to Common Core standards.

Duncan’s remarks came in a speech he gave at a meeting of the Council of Chief State Schools Officers Organization in Richmond, Va. on Friday, reports The Washington Post.

“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, 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, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan proclaimed. “You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”

This fall, for the first time, 45 states and the District of Columbia began implementing the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which attempts to standardize various K-12 curricula around the country.

Criticism of the Common Core has risen sharply. Opposition has brought together conservatives who are opposed to centralized, one-size-fits-all public education and leftists who deplore ever-more standardized testing.

Many teachers and school administrators hate it because, they say, implementation has been rushed and teachers have had no input concerning the material to be taught. (RELATED: Common Core forces new kindergarteners to bubble in test answers)

Some parents are not allowing their children to take Core-aligned standardized tests.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, has argued that the Common Core rollout has been worse than the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

“You think the Obamacare implementation is bad? The implementation of the Common Core is far worse,” she charged, according to the Post.

Some states with Republican governors have already begun rethinking the standards in light of protest from a range of groups.

The Common Core standards demand that students know certain things by certain grade levels, but do little to describe how teachers should impart those skills.

The standards have been endorsed by numerous groups including the National Governors Association.

For months, Duncan’s mantra has been that a batch of new standardized tests associated with the Common Core will prove to be far superior to the standardized tests that came before them. Two multistate groups have been designing these tests using $350 million in federal funding. 

A spokesman for the Department of Education told the Post that Duncan was trying to say that parents who think they are sending their kids to good schools are actually wrong.

“When confronted with the truth through lower test scores and other indicators, the unhelpful response, in Arne’s view, is to say, ‘Let’s lower standards and go back to lying to ourselves and our children, so that our community can feel better,'” explained communications secretary Massie Ritsch.

“The more productive response for a community or a state is to ask, ‘What can we do to get better, so our students can graduate from high school, succeed in college and be competitive for good jobs?'” Ritsch instructed.

Friday’s speech wasn’t the first time Duncan has lambasted Common Core critics. At a September appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, for example, he said opposition amounts to “political silliness.”

“The Common Core has become a rallying cry for fringe groups that claim it is a scheme for the federal government to usurp state and local control of what students learn. An op-ed in the New York Times called the Common Core ‘a radical curriculum.’ It is neither radical nor a curriculum,” the education secretary said, according to the Post.

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