I’m starting to miss the good old days, when the only media coverage of “Common Core” consisted of Glenn Beck ranting about how it was a giant conspiracy led by Bill Gates to brainwash your children into buying Microsoft products. But alas, those days are gone and we aren’t getting them back. Like many of Beck’s rants, common core hysteria has now gone mainstream, and even leftists are starting to speak out against it.
The traditional media is slowly becoming more and more vocal on this issue, and they’re publishing more and more complaints from teachers and parents about why this system is awful. Good news right? Liberals and conservatives working together! What could go wrong?
The same thing that always goes wrong. Conservatives are so desperate for the attention and approval of liberals that they’re about to get completely screwed over, as they don’t seem to realize that the left’s objections to common core are completely and totally different from what their objections are. The Glenn Beck opposition to common core seems to be based on two major factors: that it essentially creates a mandated “national curriculum” which teachers will be required to use, and that it includes a lot of “data mining” conducted by large corporations. The issues are teacher independence, and student privacy.
But what are the objections we’re seeing in the mainstream media? Well, let’s have a look, shall we? This piece was, at one point, the most popular article on The Washington Post yesterday. In it, a public school teacher (and local teacher’s union chapter president) complains about how awful common core is. But what does he oppose about it? Is it the nationalized education system that would reduce all teachers to mindless robots? Is it the tracking of children and the potential conflict of interest with private companies?
Nope, it’s not any of those things. This guy’s major complaint is that the tests are too hard. It’s the same point that has been made by Louis CK, and a countless number of Facebook memes. And as of now, it seems to be the only argument against common core that the mainstream media is actually willing to support. Nearly all of the common core coverage you will get from the New York Times, the Washington Post, or CNN is exactly like this: “Common core sucks because its test questions are too difficult.”
It would seem that this teacher, and many of the other “mainstream” opponents of common core have no objection with the concept in theory, only the specific implementation of it. They have no problem with a single curriculum being forced on teachers nationwide. They have no problem with relying on private companies to track your child throughout their educational career. They just want easier tests. After all, difficult tests make students feel bad. They get sad and frustrated. It’s bad for their self-esteem!
(Sidebar: How much do you want to bet the same people whining about these tests being too difficult are the same people who constantly insist that we need to dump more money into the failing public school system because we’re “falling behind” other nations? Do you think that if a Chinese student came home with a failing grade on a test and told their parents it was “too hard” the parents would react by saying, “This is an outrage! I’m going to write a letter to the newspaper demanding these tests be changed! You shouldn’t have to face anything this challenging!” Or would they say, “Go to your room and study until you figure it out!” It seems ridiculous that the same people who regularly demand “higher standards” will immediately freak out at the first glimpse of a test that their normally brilliant (according to them) kids struggle with. For more on “falling behind” and standardized testing, click here.)
So how does this eventually play out? Allow me to make a prediction. The collective outrage over “common core” from the left AND right is gaining traction. The system known as common core is too unpopular, and supporting it will soon become political suicide. So our great and wise overlords of parties R and D will get together and develop a “common sense, bipartisan solution for reform” that the media will claim “abolishes common core.” In reality, it will work the way “bipartisan compromise” almost always works in Washington. The left will get exactly what it wants, and the right will get nothing. The “common core” name will vanish, and the tests will be made significantly easier in order to placate the school teachers (and their politically influential unions) and the helicopter parents (who have nothing better to do than whine to newspapers all day).
But the nationalized curriculum will remain. Teacher independence will be very much dead. RINOs will brag in their campaign commercials about how they “led the effort to abolish common core” and get re-elected based on that technically accurate, but entirely misleading claim. And most of the public will buy it. They’ll support the new system with the new name, because they’ll be so excited at having “won” the battle against common core, they won’t bother looking into the details of its replacement. Anyone who fails to support this “bipartisan compromise” will be branded as a ridiculous extremist standing in the way of fixing our schools (or smeared as being in favor of common core).
I could be wrong here, but I really don’t see this playing out any other way. The left will get what they really wanted all along (nationalized educational curriculum and detailed tracking mechanisms), the right will be told to shut up because after all, we gave them what they wanted by getting rid of common core! Incumbents on both sides will be lauded for heroically standing up and fighting for teachers and children to repeal a bad system (without mentioning that it’s being replaced by something that will be the exact same, but with easier tests.) This is what co-opting looks like, and it’s happening right now, under our eyes, in real-time.