The politics of education in Tennessee has taken a strange and troubling turn that deserves consideration. In the sidebar, you'll see links to a Roane Views post and Tom Humphrey post on the Tea Party nutjobs who will be testifying before the state senate education committee on the issue of the common core initiative. Below the fold, I'll offer some thoughts in no particular order about the problematics associated with this turn of events.
I'm actually a supporter of the idea of creating a set of loose national standards that are not overly prescriptive [a la' Finland] that will prevent the craziest among us from teaching children young earth creationism and what not while also making space for local control of public schooling. That said, the common core is just another link in the chain of contemporary education reform with a mindless focus on assessment, value-added measures, the narrowing of the curriculum, etc. Much of the literacy standards in primary grades appear to be developmentally inappropriate, and the testing associated with the common core is more of the same dressed up with computers as a simulation of innovation. So, while I support national standards, the common core initiative just appears to be more of the same brought to you by the same old groups, the groups testifying in favor of the common core [SCORE and the Fordham Foundation] should tell you all you need to know.
These folks are coming from the Glenn Beck - Wall Builders wing of crazytown who see the common core as the first step on the Road to Serfdom enforced by soldiers wearing blue helmets. More importantly, these folks would like nothing more than school vouchers and the destruction of public schooling as we have known it for over a century.
So, where does this leave supporters of public education? We all know the old saying about strange bedfellows, but the idea of making common cause with the crazies seems like an extremely bad idea. The Tea Party types have enough power already and giving them power over education policy can only lead to bad outcomes.
Another question to consider is how do supporters of public education who oppose the common core initiative differentiate themselves from the crazies?
I do not even pretend to know the answers nor do I consider this quick [somewhat rambling] post to be the final word on the topic. I'd be interested to see what the hive mind here has to say. Any thoughts?
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