Tea Party influence drove the national show trial held yesterday and today in the Arkansas legislature over national educational standards adopted by 45 states known as the Common Core. But differences of opinion run deeper than the Tea Party opposition, as I mentioned yesterday. Over-emphasis on testing — and insufficient investment in classroom leadership — is another strain of criticism. I confess I'm not moved by parents who complain that they can't help kids with homework anymore because of new methods. The table of elements is bigger than when I was in school, too, but I don't propose that we stick with the old one.
By the way, the Walton-Hussman-Stephens financed school lobbying organization in Arkansas strongly backs Common Core. Despite that, I also tend to favor high standards that provide some uniform expectations across the country, with the allowance for local adaptation. I do, however, sympathize with teachers who see more emphasis on testing and less on recruiting, paying, overseeing and helping the factor that is most vital in education — the teacher.
But if you want to see what the Tea Party is really about educationally, take a look at North Carolina, where extreme Republicans are in control of the legislature. This summary of recent events there drew wide attention on blogs yesterday, reprinted here from Diane Ravitch:
Yvonne Brannan of Public Schools First NC sent the following comment:
“It is a tragic day in NC for our public schools, their teachers and students. The cuts to education reflect a very aggressive attack on public education. Eliminating $110 million for teacher assistants, eliminating teacher tenure, eliminating class size limits for K-3, no raise again this year, all of these unnecessary cuts wipe out three decades of steady progress. The most damaging is allowing for our hard earned tax dollars to be transferred to private schools. The privatization of public schools threatens the very cornerstone of our democracy and violates our state constitution. This is beyond comprehension and represents the worst public policy I have ever witnessed in NC History. These cuts to public education will have a direct impact at the classroom level, impacting every single one of our 1.5 million public school children. The General Assembly has abandoned the heart and soul of what makes our schools work and has set us on a course that will end public education as a common good in NC. We hope the business community will realize today that this attack on public education is an attack on our economic viability.”
Coming soon to a state near you.
PS — Here's a newspaper account of the proposed state budget that prompted the criticism.