First published on Schools Matter on May 8, 2014
"In short, the real literacy crisis occurs whenever we deploy a pedagogy that asks our students only to consume texts and not to produce them as well." — Richard E. Miller
Profiteering members of the testing industrial complex, and right-of-center Democrats were quick to embrace the release of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report that correctly takes issue with right wing extremism fueling a small portion of the criticisms of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). SPLC's Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello made a mild statement about authentic issues with CCSS in their announcement: "There are legitimate concerns about the Common Core, but those very real issues are being obscured and distorted by the claims of extremists." However, I still felt the tenor and tone of the SPLC's report allowed CCSS supporters to claim that all opponents of the corporate curricula are right wingers. I wrote SPLC and received a response.
While I'm familiar with the hackneyed critique by CCSS defenders that some of the left has made a mistake in considering forming a united front with the right on this issue, I'm not guilty of that. I don't do united fronts with fascists. Even when citing works by right-wing sources I've written disclaimers about the sources and their ideologies. In fact, one such disclaimer led to me being vociferously attacked by teabaggers and other reactionaries. I defended my disclaimer then and still do. My critiques of CCSS are for the reasons stated in my email to the SPLC. While I appreciate their response, I think they could do more. It's one thing to acknowledge that some of the rhetoric on CCSS is right-wing tripe. It's another to acknowledge publicly that academia and the left have legitimate reasons to oppose the imposition of this corporate curricula. Here in Los Angeles they are shuttering Ethnic Studies and so many other programs so that students can learn David Coleman's corporatized, sanitized, and very white idea of what comprises "core knowledge."
Ironically, Ms. Costello's correct assessment of the fringe-right's motivations and goals: "school vouchers" and "the end of teacher tenure", are the identical agenda as the Obama Administration, and epitomized by Michelle Rhee's advocacy of those goals on behalf of Duncan's reign. There is no social justice case for CCSS; appeals to "competition," and "A Nation at Risk" are not progressive. Fortunately progressive, working class organizations like the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) are rejecting CCSS, and showing us the way forward. The always eloquent CTU President Karen Lewis speaks truth to CCSS' racist and classist nature:
"Common Core eliminates creativity in the classroom and impedes collaboration. We also know that high-stakes standardized testing is designed to rank and sort our children and it contributes significantly to racial discrimination and the achievement gap among students in America's schools."
From: "Robert D. Skeels" <email@example.com>