MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is a “right-wing” extremist whose ultimate mission is to destroy “public education itself.”
That’s the takeaway from a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center which denounces the anti-Common Core movement as just the latest effort by the “far right” to discredit and dismantle public schools – the “linchpin not only of our prosperity but of the American ideal of equality for all.”
To review, Common Core is a set of experimental math and English learning standards that have been adopted by 44 states. Education leaders in those states – many of whom were appointed by governors, not elected by the voters – agreed to implement the nationalized standards after some serious arm-twisting by the federal government (via No Child Left Behind waivers and Race to the Top funding) and the deep-pocketed Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
But according to Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) “scholars,” Common Core is the organic result of state leaders coming together to figure out once and for all, by golly, how to improve America’s underperforming public education system.
Anyone who disagrees with that, SPLC leaders add, is a right-wing troll.
“Common Core sets standards for literacy and math skills that all children in public school should achieve at every grade level – nothing more, nothing less,” sniffs Josh Glasstetter, who manages SPLC’s “Hatewatch” blog.
Echoing the theme of the SPLC’s new report, Glasstetter contends that crazed conservatives are jeopardizing this noble experiment with their lies and fear-mongering ways in order to convince their fellow Americans that Common Core will lead to the federalization of public education.
“The right-wing propagandists have created an alternate universe of lies and deceptions, and not for the first time,” he writes. “Obamacare had ‘death panels,’ and now Obamacare has ‘government indoctrination camps’ to turn children into ‘green serfs’ who will serve the ‘New World Order.’”
And that leads us to our conclusion that Karen Lewis and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) are now members of the far-right, anti-public school crowd, at least by the SPLC’s logic.
On Wednesday, CTU delegates “passed a resolution opposing use of the Common Core State Standards in teaching and testing, and it plans to lobby the Illinois Board of Education to reverse approval of the Core and ask its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, to consider it at its upcoming convention,” reports Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post.
CTU’s lengthy resolution – filled 12 “whereas” clauses and seven “resolved” clauses – even echoes many of the “right’s” concerns about the standards.
Still, the most eye-opening comments about Common Core came in a public statement from Lewis herself:
I agree with educators and parents from across the country, the Common Core mandate represents an overreach of federal power into personal privacy as well as into state educational autonomy. Common Core eliminates creativity in the classroom and impedes collaboration. We also know that high-stakes standardized testing is designed to rank and sort our children and it contributes significantly to racial discrimination and the achievement gap among students in America’s schools.
What’s interesting is that Lewis is still an ardent progressive – as the last part of her statement makes clear – and surely agrees with the SPLC’s overall radical agenda.
But if SPLC’s scholars are going to be intellectually coherent, they now must treat Lewis as a card-carrying member of the vast right-wing conspiracy, working side-by-side with crazy Tea Party-ers and Glenn Beck devotees.
That’s an absurd idea, of course, but it illustrates the ridiculous lengths Common Core supporters will go to defend their grand experiment, which appears to be crumbling in their hands.
The SPLC doesn’t have to worry about ruining its credibility by making such ridiculous charges, as it had none to begin with.
But perhaps officials with more “respectable” organizations will wise up and stop the personal attacks against Common Core opponents.
Are you listening, Thomas B. Fordham Institute?