WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan used a speech yesterday before the National Press Club to deliver a verbal beat down on Congress and critics of Common Core.
“They are creating stress and uncertainty … at a time when our schools need stability and investment,” Education Week quoted Duncan as saying regarding the partial government shutdown.
“Think of all the unfinished business in Congress that actually affects our school children, from comprehensive immigration reform to common sense gun laws,” Duncan said, according to the Washington Examiner.
“If the slaughter of children and teachers and the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School didn’t move them, I honestly don’t know what will,” he said.
Duncan also said criticism of Common Core is “political silliness.”
“Where are the reasonable Republicans here in Washington who can stand up to the Tea Party?” Duncan wondered. “The silence from our moderate friends troubles me more than the noise from the [far right].”
Duncan is the latest to dismiss criticism of Common Core as nothing more than partisan politics. Apparently he hasn’t heard from liberals or union activists opposed to the new national standards because they’re seen as a “corporate” reform that relies too heavily on standardized tests.
Jeb Bush, a “conservative” ally of Duncan on Common Core, also has accused critics of behaving in a “purely political” manner.
There’s nothing wrong with supporting Common Core. But there is something wrong with attacking people who have genuine concerns about the program.
A change in education policy of this magnitude deserves close inspection and a vigorous national debate. Duncan and Bush obviously preferred the quiet way it was forced upon 45 states and the District of Columbia, with very little information shared with the public and very little input from the public.
Would Duncan be happier if most Americans ignored this issue? That would be a sign that they have no interest whatsoever in children and public education. If Duncan thinks that would be preferable, he has little respect for democracy or the American people.