Tuesday, November 19, 2013

America's "White Suburban Moms" are upset WHY, now?!?!?

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 Kindergarten onward.

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 classroom educators.

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.

And 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.

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Please keep it clean. Differences of opinion aren't a problem for me. Rudeness is. Thankyouverymuch. :-)