If You Support Common Core, Oppose Arne Duncan

By 08/08/2011

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Arnius Duncanus is at it again. Unmoved by pleas that he “first do no harm” when it comes to promising reforms like the Common Core State Standards Initiative, he seems compelled to attach mandates to his forthcoming NCLB waivers that will require adoption of the Common Core standards.

No, his team won’t mention the Common Core, but everybody knows that’s what he’s talking about when he calls for “college and career-ready standards.”

Duncan says that he doesn’t want to be tone-deaf to state officials’ concerns about No Child Left Behind. Fair enough. But why be so tone-deaf to the politics around all of this?

I once heard Arne talking about winning gracefully. That’s what’s called for now. Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core. Most are deeply engaged in developing assessments related to the standards. During the past legislative session, no state backed out. In other words, proponents of the Common Core have won a great victory. The only possible outcome of Secretary Duncan putting more federal pressure on the states to adopt the Common Core is stoke the fires of conservative backlash–and to lose many of the states that have already signed on.

Walk away from this one, Mr. Secretary. Please, those of us who support the Common Core are begging you.

-Mike Petrilli

Comment on this article
  • Anne Clark says:

    You assume that those crying the loudest think there is any legitimate role in education for the federal government. They don’t. So give up trying to appease them. They will never be happy with anything done in Washington.

    The conservative backlash will continue led by former Bush-era NCLB designers who now talk of what foolishness federal involvement in education is.

    Ignore them. Listen to the Governors looking for action – and let them negotiate with Washington.

  • Anne Clark says:

    From Ed week – I don’t see Christie worried about Duncan or Washington – do you? Ignore the nonsense and the threats from the right.

    Q. Is there any part of the Obama administration’s education agenda you disagree with?

    A. “Maybe I’d want to be a little more aggressive. We’re saying many of the same things. That would be a criticism pretty much on the margins.” (He praised the president for “outstanding leadership.”)

    Q. How should Education Secretary Arne Duncan use the new $700 million in Race to the Top funds, especially since your state narrowly lost out last time?

    A. The same way he did the first time, “to incentivize needed reform.”

    Q. If states are given more flexibility over accountability in a revision of No Child Left Behind, what would you do that you can’t do now under the law?

    A. “I don’t think there’s a lot that the federal government is doing at the moment that prevents me from doing that (his own accountability system). The forces that are preventing me from doing that are internal, not external. It’s 9 percent of overall education spending in America. With the exception of Race to the Top, I don’t think federal education funding has driven any type of change. And I don’t think it will. Governors have to lead on this. And state legislatures have to lead on this.”

  • MOMwithABrain says:

    Geesh Mike, I think many tried to warn you guys about this, but you wouldn’t listen. WE told you Common Core would have strings, it’s big govt. etc. but you guys wouldn’t listen.

    Finn should never have abandoned his principles. Now you guys have to try to save face after losing SO much credibility.

  • […] policy on states.  Instead they extort cash-strapped states by mandating adoption of programs (Common Core State Standards, for example) in order to obtain a waiver from NCLB (which directly impacts funding).  Consider […]

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