Laura McKenna, a white suburban New Jersey mom (and writer for The Atlantic), analyzes the backlash against the Common Core and aligned standardized tests in
Suburbia and Its Common Core Conspiracy Theories. The first cadre of Core haters were GOP Tea Party-ers: “politically motivated critics, who have rallied against a national system of learning standards for decades.” But now, as we all know, the Tea Party crazies have joined arms with a group that McKenna describes as her own:
white, suburban moms. In other words, people just like her (and me, for the record). She explains:
My friends and neighbors post links almost daily on Facebook to articles claiming the Common Core “curriculum,” as they perceive it, is destroying American youth. It has single-handedly taken recess away from kids, they argue. The upcoming tests demoralize kids and teachers. The new curricula and tests are an assault on an otherwise idyllic world where kids used to learn naturally—like those lucky children in Finland. Instead of actually instilling knowledge in students, teachers drill irrelevant facts into kids’ heads in order to game the testing results. And since the new exams will be taken on computers, hackers might even reveal the test results to colleges. While there may be elements of truth in some of those parents’ fears, these protests have developed an irrational, hysterical bent. And they often have very real implications when it comes to public policy; these theories and fears have already led to political action at the local level. Parents have formed groups that claim to disseminate “the facts” about the Common Core. They share tips for opting out of the tests. They read prepared speeches at school board meetings. One local debate on the Common Core hosted by the League of Women Voters was standing room only.
Read the whole thing. McKenna incisively captures the distrust of bureaucracy shared by both cohorts, the analogy to anti-vaxxers, flaws in implementation of the PARCC, and how the intensity of the blowback can be ascribed in part to suburban parents’ belief that the Common Core and attendant assessments represent a “threat to their ability to keep their kids safe in a hostile world.”
Laura Waters writes about New Jersey education politics and policy for WHYY’s Newsworks and NJ Spotlight. An earlier version of this post appeared on her own blog, NJ Left Behind. She is a mother of four and has been a school board member in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, for 10 years.
Laura Waters is the founder and managing editor of New Jersey Education Report, formerly a senior writer/editor with brightbeam. Laura writes about New Jersey and New York education policy and politics. As the daughter of New York City educators and parent of a son with special needs, she writes frequently about the need to listen to families and ensure access to good public school options for ...