More reason to hate the Tea Party

Well, now that they’ve largely failed in 1) preventing more Americans from having affordable health care; and 2) preventing Obama from being re-elected.  The Tea Party needs something to freak out about.  Turns out that its national educational standards.  God forbid we try and bring up the piss-poor education in Mississippi or Louisiana to national standards or even worse, share data across states to try and improve education.  We’ll simply ignore the fact that pretty much every country that outperforms us relies on national standards.

Local control of educational standards not only has a long history, its importance to learning is quite clear.  Factoring an equation, subject-verb agreement, and the years of the Revolutionary War quite obviously are different in North Carolina than North Dakota.  And standards should reflect that.  Or something.

From the Post:

Tea party groups over the past few weeks have suddenly and successfully pressured Republican governors to reassess their support for a rare bipartisan initiative backed by President Obama to overhaul the nation’s public schools.

Activists have donned matching T-shirts and packed buses bound for state legislative hearing rooms in Harrisburg, Pa., grilled Georgia education officials at a local Republican Party breakfast and deluged Michigan lawmakers with phone calls urging opposition to theCommon Core State Standards.

So, just what is this evil Common Core you ask?

The White House has promoted Common Core, written by governors and state education officials in both parties and largely funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to create consistent math and reading standards from kindergarten through 12th grade. Academic standards vary widely among states, and that patchwork nature has been partly blamed for mediocre rankings of U.S. students in international comparisons.

The standards do not dictate curriculum. Rather, states decide what to teach and how to prepare children for standardized tests based on Common Core.  [emphases mine]

F*&n Communists!  I mean really, the hubris of thinking their should be national standards on math and reading.  Reality?  I suspect that despite the fact that this has been truly bipartisan and embraced (until now) by plenty of Republicans (note that last emboldened paragraph above), the Tea Party whackjobs have realized that Obama is for it, so it can’t be good.  Not to mention, the Gates Foundation spends most of its money trying to cure the world’s poorest people of disease, so you know their values are suspect.

Now, I’m no expert on the Common Core (though, seems to be being implemented just fine with my 7th grader this year), but to argue against national standards for math and reading is ludicrous on its face.  If the Tea Party gears up, unfortunately, not many Republican politicians will have the guts to face them down.

On the bright side, big business is actually interested in having well-educated workforce, so there’s this:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable also are planning a public relations blitz to defend the standards.

Those are the real heavy-hitters of the Republican Party.  As a political scientist, it will be fascinating to see the Chamber of Commerce vs. the Tea Party.  And boy am I pulling for the Chamber for once.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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