Thoughts on Common Core from Arne Duncan’s “White Suburban Mom”

I haven’t been blogging much… Too busy helping my children with special needs navigate the new world order of education thanks to the Common Core initiative adopted by NY state courtesy of John King et. al. But, Arne Duncan’s recent slur against us “white suburban Moms” has brought me out of my self-imposed blogging hiatus. Thanks Arne… But that’s the ONLY thanks you’ll get from the likes of me and my fellow “white suburban Moms!” Here’s what I think…

arne duncan FSecretary of Education Arne Duncan should be removed from his position along with NYS Commissioner of Education John King and, in my humble opinion, the host of other government officials who bought into this nightmare that encompasses Common Core, High Stakes Testing, Race-to-the-Top, inBloom data collection, PARCC and so much more. It’s NOT the raising of the education bar that is the problem for any of us parents or, dare I speak for them, the teachers. It’s the adoption and forced implementation via strong-arm tactics and outright monetary bribes of inappropriate, abusive, untested programs that is the problem.

In a forum of School Superintendents, Mr. Duncan was quoted as saying, “it’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — [realize] their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were…” Why the superintendents in attendance didn’t stand up and boo this self-serving, inept, empty suit who not only insulted every parent in our nation — the parents these superintendents also represent — but outright insulted each and every one of them personally as well as the school districts they serve, is beyond my understanding.

Instead of hearing the concerns of parents, teachers and administrators from all over the United States, Mr. Duncan is flinging insults at white suburban mothers… insults that have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the concerns voiced by the parents opposed to the Common Core initiative and its tag-along initiatives. (By the way, Mr. Duncan’s pet project “Race-to-the-Top” is one of the detrimental [my adjective] initiatives opposed by many of us parents speaking out against the Common Core. )

Shut up and listen, Mr. Duncan! I don’t give a damn about my children appearing brilliant! But I do care deeply that my children receive a viable, reliable, education via tested and proven methodologies. And, THAT is where Common Core and your Race-to-the-Top initiatives FAIL!

My children are NOT your political pawns. They are not test guinea pigs for you to SELL to big business. I’m not fighting Common Core because I want my children to appear brilliant via a lesser curriculum. I am not even fighting Common Core in and of itself. I am fighting the forced implementation of an untested, age-inappropriate, NON-research-based curriculum forced on us by  state education officials — NOT educators — who were bribed by the federal government who, by the way, is NOT permitted by law to influence educational curriculums. (I wonder, Mr. Duncan, would a monetary bribe count as influencing? Because that is what Race-to-the-Top is… a bribe!). The decision to force the rapid implementation of CCSS and its tag-along initiatives without sufficient testing is one that immediately affects the well-being of MY children whose care and upbringing is my legal responsibility. So YES, Mr. Duncan, I feel I have the right to speak out in this respect. And, NO, I was never given the option to review or express my opinion or concerns before or since CCSS was implemented. (Mr. King cancelled the Long Island meetings where I might have had the after-the-fact opportunity to do so).

My concerns are not about whether my child appears brilliant based on your completely inappropriate and untested standardized assessments. I’m concerned about the Common Core Curriculum and the lack of research that support it, and about the validity, necessity, cost and effectiveness of ALL of the accompanying initiatives such as the intensive and excessive high stakes testing, the coming PARCC program (more testing), the rapid implementation of CCSS including the test-then-teach approach, the lack of accompanying professional development or preview to help the teachers with their preparation and transition to the new curriculum, the lack and/or outright absence of developed curriculum-supporting materials offered by the big businesses who were paid handsomely to support the implementation of Common Core in our schools, the lack of funds to help children deemed below par to catch up, the fact that no one has addressed the impact of any of this on the population of children with special needs who may already have been struggling academically but who are required by federal laws to be supported, the collection of my children’s personal data tied to my family’s data and the collection/dissemination of these 400+ data points (talk about scary) to inBloom without the guarantee of privacy or the opportunity to say no to the storage and sale of that data to big business for THEIR monetary profit. I’m not sure if anyone has pointed this out to you in the four years that you have served as secretary of education, Mr. Duncan, but this is a democratic republic where education is within the purview of the states w/o interference from the federal government. I find it fascinating, Mr. Duncan, that you feel at liberty to insult me when you do not even know me nor represent me or my concerns with regard to my children’s education.

Here’s a suggestion from my white suburban husband and parent to our children: why don’t we significantly increase your workload to be completed in 75 percent of the time, so you can spend the other 25 percent of your work hours to sit for these inane, high stakes tests and evaluations, as unprepared as the  students you’ve forced this on. Then, we’ll collect not only your name, address, phone number and your grade on the test, but every grade you ever achieved in education – including your elementary, middle, high school, and college grades — your professional evaluations and “reviews,” your detailed attendance and personal health records, yours and your parents’ income, your detailed school and work disciplinary record (including commentary), and nearly 400 other data points to be shared with me and the rest of the world with no data security and no promise that we won’t sell that information for profit in the future.

It might surprise you, Mr. Duncan, to find that us mothers – not just the white suburban ones but every mother from every ethnic, religious, and socio-economic background living in America’s cities, suburbs, and rural areas – whose school-age children are subjected to your education policies without voice see your insensitive and ill-informed insult as evidence that you are less-than-brilliant yourself!

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About Maggie

I'm a stay-at-home mother of 3 children including a 10-year-old daughter, the Old Soul, and 6-year-old identical twin boys who've been blessed with an extra 21st chromosome (aka: Down Syndrome). I happily spend my time doing all that I can do -- breaking the proverbial box wide open -- to foster my children's development and then sharing what I learn with you through this blog.
This entry was posted in Advocacy, Arne Duncan, Common Core, educating children with Down Syndrome, Education, evidenced-based practices, Grass Roots Advocacy, NY State legislation, research, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Thoughts on Common Core from Arne Duncan’s “White Suburban Mom”

  1. Kate Metsch says:

    Thank you for your well written and knowledgable post. You have voiced my concerns better than anyone that I have read. I am a retired school principal from a fairly affluent school district, but the school I taught at was not one of the ones that they like to brag about. It is unconscionable to me that the entire nation now is responsible for implementing Commom Core without thought or concern for ALL children, just not the high achieving ones! Thank you for letting the world know what is really going on. Big business can hardly wait to take over the public school system. Conservatives are vowing to make charter schools and other schools that are privately funded to be the way that the public education in our country is headed. You are an outstanding advocate,not only for your children, but for all children. You are my hero! Kate

    • Maggie says:

      Thank you Kate. And, please keep up your own advocacy on behalf of all of our children. Share at will ;o)

      • Kate Metsch says:

        Thanks, Maggie, I failed to mention that I am a mother of a 33 year old daughter with spina bifida who has succeeded in life because she went to school who only looked at her strengths and considered her needs as just that, needs, not challenges, obstacles, or “handicaps”. Thanks again for your wisdom. Kate

      • Maggie says:

        Thanks for the background, Kate. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the mothers of children with special needs who have gone before me and led the way to a brighter future for my children. I hopeto buildon thisso other moms like us in the future have strong shoulders to stand on!

      • Kate Metsch says:

        Dear Maggie,
        Thank you for your sensitive reply. We are members of a club that no one wants to join. But as members of that club, we know that the joy can help take some of the pain away. At least that has been my experience. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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