What Conservatives Hate About Common Core, and Why They're Not Alone

Paula Bollard and Leon Wolf talk Common Core at Red State Gathering 2015 Red State's Leon Wolf interviews P JMedia's Paula Bolyard at the 2015 gathering of conservative activists in Atlanta.

Question: When it comes to Common Core, are conservatives concerned about the content of the curriculum, the publishing/testing monopoly it spawned, or the specter of the federal government reaching into your local classrooms to indoctrinate your children?

Answer: Yes.

PJ Media's own Paula Bolyard, who directs the PJ Parenting page, took to the stage at RedState Gathering in Atlanta Saturday for a discussion with Red State's Leon Wolf about the impact of Common Core, and what can be done to minimize its deleterious effects.

Bolyard says opposition to Common Core has made strange bedfellows.

"Parents don't like what they see coming home in backpacks...weird math lessons, too much testing with too high stakes," she said.

And though a lot of good teachers are "trying to make it work" they grow frustrated as the government comes along every three years and says, effectively, "everything you're doing is crap."

Teachers' unions, interested in protecting teachers' jobs, worry about the accountability structure of the program.

"They don't mind standards," Bolyard said, "but don't want jobs to be at stake as a result of the testing."

Teachers, likewise, don't like the standards as a basis for career advancement, preferring tenure and personal educational development as prerequisites to higher pay.

"It's hard to get rid of Common Core completely," Bolyard said. "I spoke with Gov. [Greg] Abbott, who said they built a border fence around Texas to keep Common Core out. But the ACT and the SAT [tests] are aligned to Common Core."

Nevertheless, some states have found more or less success in minimizing the harm, she said. In Ohio, they've limited the testing. In Oklahoma, they got rid of Common Core.

Leon Wolf noted that, "If you object, you can homeschool, but since standardized tests are keyed to it, your children may still have to meet Common Core standards."

Bolyard, a homeschooling Mom, said, "My kids did fine on the standardized tests. But a classical education won''t necessarily help you do well on the ACT or SAT anymore," and yet, "good schools -- my son went to Hillsdale -- are always looking for good students."

Many universities are diminishing the importance of standardized testing and giving more weight to other measures, such as academic portfolios.

Bolyard also sees a positive, if unintended, result of Common Core.