NEW YORK – Don’t feel bad if you can’t figure out what U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s position on Common Core is – it apparently changes by the day.
Roughly 48 hours after downplaying his support of the nationalized learning standards before a congressional subcommittee, Duncan spoke glowingly about the K-12 experiment and its potential to improve public education during an address at New York University on Thursday.
Duncan told audience members that the new standards will help prepare students for college or the work world and will give the United States’ education system a much-needed shot in the arm, the Associated Press reports.
“I promise you, the next couple years will not be easy,” Duncan said, according to the AP. “There will be bumps, hurdles and road blocks and people will say, ‘Stop, go back to the old days,’ but it’s so important this community have a vision of where we’re trying to go.”
Though Duncan never used the words “Common Core” during his remarks, it must’ve been obvious to all that he was referring to the national K-12 experiment.
Hopefully some in the audience also noticed Duncan’s interesting choice of words: “where we’re trying to go.”
Could those words have come from the same man who told a House appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday that having common learning standards among the states is merely a “secondary” concern?
Either Duncan’s roadmap of where he wants public education “to go” isn’t nearly as detailed as one might expect – or he was being less than honest to the congressional subcommittee about the importance of having common standards.
The most charitable interpretation of Duncan’s position on Common Core is that it’s so highly nuanced as to be incomprehensible to mere mortals.
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The less charitable view is that Duncan just tells whichever audience he happens to be addressing whatever it is they want to hear.
As awkward as the flip-flop was, it still didn’t represent the low point in Duncan’s speech. That moment came when the education secretary encouraged New York education leaders to “stay the course” in implementing the Standards Which Must Not Be Named.
“Anytime you challenge the status quo, anytime you raise the bar, there’s a lot of pushback. That can be scary,” Duncan said, according to the AP.
Parents, taxpayers and (some) teachers aren’t “pushing back” against Common Core because they’re trying to preserve the failed status quo. They’re fighting mad because a powerful K-12 oligarchy – comprised of Duncan, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and dozens of anonymous and unaccountable state school board members – has foisted these experimental one-size-fits-all standards upon their local classrooms without any public discussion or input.
They’re upset because they suspect the nationalized standardized tests will be used – over time – by D.C. bureaucrats to influence what gets taught in their neighborhood schools.
For Duncan to portray himself and his fellow Common Core supporters as martyrs of the “status quo” is ridiculous and really quite offensive. And it suggests our national education leader not only has trouble telling the truth, but he also has a tenuous grasp on reality.