The War Over The Core, Ctd

The country’s second-largest teachers’ union has withdrawn qualified its support for the Common Core:

After years of battling conservative groups opposed to Common Core, supporters of the testing standards discovered Friday morning that one of their most avid allies, the American Federation of Teachers, is bailing on them too. … [The AFT’s] decision to distance itself from its once-avid support for the Common Core marks a major – and, some say, even potentially lethal – blow to the standards, which the White House has emphasized as its key priority in education. The real danger is not that the Common Core will be thrown out entirely, but that state policy directors in charge of implementing the standards will be cowed by what they see as a groundswell of anger from teachers, said Michael Brickman, the national policy director at Fordham Institute, which supports the standards.

Update from a reader and a “lead author of the math standards” who objects to characterizing the AFT’s move as a “withdrawal of support”:

The Time article you cited was from last Friday; the union actually adopted its resolutions over the following weekend. Here is the actual result:

What does the resolution actually do? It says that the AFT will “continue to support the promise” of the common standards, “provided that a set of essential conditions, structures, and resources” is in place. Among other measures, the AFT will advocate that states create independent boards of teachers to monitor the implementation of the standards, and will support teachers’ having input into the “continuing development, implementation, evaluation, and as necessary, revision of the CCSS.”

One could say, then, that the AFT qualified its support. But one can’t accurately say that the union withdrew its support.

Fair point. The resolution in question reads, “[T]he AFT believes in the promise and potential of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) but is deeply disappointed in the manner in which they have been implemented” – far from a blanket condemnation.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the AFT passed another resolution that stopped just short of calling for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign:

[The resolution] calls for Obama to set up and implement an “improvement plan” for Duncan to hold him accountable for his job performance. It says the plan should, among other things, require Duncan to enact specific school funding equity recommendations in a report issued by a congressionally charged bipartisan Equity and Excellence Commission, and end the “test and punish” accountability systems of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. If an accountability plan is not put in place and Duncan does not “improve,” then he should resign, the AFT resolution says.

The country’s largest teachers’ union, the NEA, called for Duncan to resign earlier this month. Stephanie Simon considers the significance of these recent events:

[P]olicy analysts see this weekend’s moves as an escalation – a stark signal that union opposition has switched into high gear, potentially threatening an initiative that both conservatives and liberals have supported for years and that has become one of President Barack Obama’s key education priorities. Advocates of national standards have been working for more than two decades toward their goal “and now that it’s coming close to implementation, it’s all blowing up,” said David Menefee-Libey, a political scientist at Pomona College.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Grace sees former standards supporter Bobby Jindal’s reversal on the Common Core as emblematic of Republicans’ acceptance of a new political reality:

As anger [over the Common Core] grew, Jindal gradually ratcheted up his professed concern until he finally renounced his earlier position this spring. From there, he was off and running, trumpeting his defiance in speeches to GOP groups, declaring on Twitter that Louisiana wouldn’t be “bullied by fed govt.”, and issuing rhetorically loaded statements like this: “Let’s face it: centralized planning didn’t work in Russia, it’s not working with our health care system, and it won’t work in education.”

And after he failed to convince the Louisiana Legislature to follow his lead, Jindal went unilateral, announcing in mid-June that “we want out of Common Core,” and ordering his staff to invalidate the contract being used to pay the multi-state testing consortium called PARCC. The move set off chaos in schools, which suddenly didn’t know which tests they’d be using in the new year, and open warfare with Jindal’s longtime allies in reform, including the state’s top business leaders, a media-savvy education superintendent and a state education board that’s now mulling a lawsuit – all of whom accuse him of playing politics at students’ expense.

Despite the ostentatious flip-flop, Jindal’s underlying agenda hasn’t changed; he’s still fixated on positioning himself for national GOP prominence, just as he’s always been. The landscape, though, has shifted dramatically, and potential candidates eyeing the party’s 2016 presidential nomination – from Jindal to U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz to Marco Rubio – are recalibrating accordingly.

All of the Dish’s coverage of the Common Core is compiled here.