Earlier this week, America's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, made a remark that has touched off a firestorm of commentary: "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."
Not long ago, he was blaming pushback on the Common Core State Standards Initiative- which is IMO in essence a de facto national curriculum, perhaps not in writing but in reality, where the rubber meets the road - on "fringe groups," such as Tea Party Conservatives and conspiracy theorists. To be fair, there is a fair amount of resistance from those groups, but the vast majority of resistance I am seeing is from parents, from teachers, even from administrators - from regular people, in other words, from people who are seeing first-hand the effects of Common Core on their schools, their students, and their own children. This is also hardly defined by race, either; when public schools in Chicago and Philadelphia were closed en masse due to "budget shortfalls" or "underutilization" - and many in Chicago likely to be replaced by corporate charter school chains, negating the "underutilization claim," while certified teachers are being laid off and replaced by Teach For America corps members with a scant 5 weeks of training - it was parents and students and teachers and community members of color, those who taught in and attended those schools, who raised their voices the loudest.
Resistance has been made out to be a race issue, a political Left-vs-Right issue, even a religious issue - but the truth is that it's been coming from everywhere. And many of the "white suburban moms" pushing back have NOT "suddenly" come to any realizations of the sort, but have realized some time ago, with growing certainty, that something is rotten in the arena of American public education. Online Facebook groups such as Dump Duncan have been around for a while, but others with more provocative names like BadAss Teachers Association and Stop Common Core (here is the Maryland group) have spawned their own spinoff groups, whether state BAT groups, a parent group (BadAss Parents), even a Progressive BadAss Teachers group. Arne Duncan's latest aim at white suburban moms, though, really touched a nerve; within hours, Moms Against Duncan was formed on Facebook and has been growing steadily since the remark was first made a couple of days ago, with membership comprised of mothers of ALL colors - and fathers and grandparents too!
This article in the Washington Post education blog The Answer Sheet touched off its firestorm. I've been following the Answer Sheet blog for a couple of years now, and while responses on some posts have been thick and fast, I don't recall EVER seeing just shy of 2000 comments (as of this writing - probably over 2000 by the time I'm done proofreading!) sprout up on a post there in the space of only 2-3 days. Also in response, a petition asking for Arne Duncan's removal from his appointed post has been created; a similar petition that made the rounds this past summer stalled out at about 2600 signatures after its 30-day window; this one already has 2600 signatures in its third day!
I have tried to avoid using this blog for posts of this nature, but today I'm making an exception. Here is what I had to say, modified with links added, a correction in spelling, and a slight change in wording near the end from my response on that post:
This White Suburban Mom is upset that
Common Core, along with Race to the Top, is meaning more and more drudgery and more and more homework - and less and less CHILDHOOD! - for
her children, particularly my younger who has had CCSS from
This White Suburban Mom is outraged that
HER children (but not those of the wealthy, who can send THEIR kids to
private schools who aren't obliged to use CCSS!) are guinea pigs for an
untested but nonetheless mandatory rollout of a curriculum that can only
be said to have been made by educators by completely changing the
definition of "educator," and by minimizing the roles of ACTUAL
This White Suburban Mom is furious that
her neighborhood school and its staff and teachers are now to be judged
on two weeks of testing, the results of which WILL be used to judge, to
fire, and to fund schools - but NOT to actually inform or improve
instruction, and that those tests are now the be-all and end-all of what
is happening in those schools.
This White suburban Mom is
incensed that business interests and politics are taking precedence over
actual education, and that "leveraged philanthropy" a la Bill Gates is
resulting in undue non-educator influence on educational policy.
this White Suburban Mom has decades more teaching experience than Arne
Duncan, not to mention not one but TWO more education degrees - that is
to say, I have TWO education degrees - than the man who supposedly RUNS
education in this country.
Arne Duncan can take his remark
about White Suburban Moms and put it in the same dark orifice from whence comes any of his other
"expertise" and "wisdom." Me, I took the Red Pill, and I advise any
other parents - urban, suburban, rural, moms, dads, Black, White,
biracial, other, wealthy, poor - to do likewise.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
America's "White Suburban Moms" are upset WHY, now?!?!?
Labels: arne duncan, bill gates, CCSS, CCSSI, common core, curriculum, education, leveraged philanthropy, race to the top, schools, standards, teaching, white suburban moms
I've always been a musician and music teacher, which got me interested in how the brain works. When my first child was born with some neurological issues that we've since learned can be helped by our diet and lifestyle, we began to learn more.... and more... and now my head is spinning with the things I'm learning about how the Standard American Diet (and lifestyle!) not only was hurting us but how it impacts all of us. Frustrated with The System that assumes that One Size Fits All and that leadership (and therefore information and power) must come from the Top Down, I suppose I'm also just a teensy bit subversive. LOL (That and I'm into parenthetical asides.) I'm the author of My Very Own Crunchy and Progressive Parenting Blog and Scratchpad; my eldest is the primary author of Stuff I Wish My Teachers Knew (under construction). :-)