Culture

10 Signs Common Core Has Gone from Fringe Issue to Mainstream

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When people like Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin first began to sound the alarm on Common Core a few years ago, many people viewed it as a right-wing cause, one of those issues that split cleanly along party and ideological lines and would remain in the conservative camp. The promoters of the Common Core, including the Republican Governors Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and others, surely never saw the tsunami of opposition that was headed their way and now threatens to take down the standards that were adopted by forty-four of the fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Here are 10 Signs Common Core Has Gone From Fringe Issue to Mainstream:

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10.  Common Core Is Making a Pest of Itself

Recently on a Facebook page dedicated to stopping Common Core in schools, a mother posted a lesson from her daughter’s school that featured the classic children’s book The Story About Ping. Parents were understandably outraged that an iconic children’s book — one that has been enjoyed by boys and girls around the world for generations — was now tainted by the Common Core.

Because the standards have been adopted by so many states, publishers, eager to jump on the bandwagon — because there’s lots of money to be made — have spent the last few years not only developing new materials to conform with the standards, but repurposing existing curriculum and marking it with the Common Core stamp of approval. If a publisher finds that a worksheet or lesson plan they already have in existence checks off some box on the list of Common Core standards, they are stamping it with Common Core so they can market it to schools that won’t buy materials that are not aligned to the standards.

As a result, Common Core is everywhere. Parents who have concerns about it see it coming home day after day in their kids’ backpacks and can’t help but feel like they’ve been pulled into some kind of cult.

And some of the sweetest books from their childhood are now being dragged into this debacle. 

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9. Common Core Moms Are Making Pests of Themselves

Parents — both moms and dads — who are upset about Common Core are also making pests of themselves. They’re organizing, storming everything from school board meetings to statehouse hearings, and letting everyone they encounter know that they want Common Core to be repealed. Take, for example, these Halloween treat bags stuffed with anti-Common Core fliers.

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8. The Issue Has Crossed Partisan Lines

As I’ve observed discussions between parents who have concerns about Common Core, I’ve noticed that increasingly, the opposition crosses party and ideological lines. For example, as parents in a Facebook group talked about The Story About Ping being aligned with Common Core, it was clear that while they all agreed they didn’t want Common Core in their children’s school, they couldn’t agree on much else when it came to poor little Ping the duck. Some parents were angry that the lesson turned into the typical public school anti-bullying propaganda, while others were appalled that the public school would allow children to see a book in which a poor little duck was spanked. Are the schools now encouraging duck child abuse? All proof that Common Core is evil. Or that the progressives have taken over the schools, depending on your point of view.

While on the surface the unity seems quite fragile, in reality, a lot of the parents who oppose Common Core are neither ideological nor political. They care about their children and they sense something is very wrong. They’ll support whichever side will fix it.

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7. The Civil Disobedience Has Begun

Parents in increasing numbers are opting their children out of state-mandated tests. Many parents object to the data-collection aspect of Common Core-aligned tests. Others believe there are too many tests and want to remove their kids from the breakneck testing pace in many schools. In New York state earlier this year, reportedly up to 70% of students opted out of the Common Core assessments.

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6. “It’s Common Core Math” LOL!

Evidence is mounting that Common Core math is very unlikely to deliver on the promises of its proponents. In fact, a new white paper titled “Why Students Need Strong Standards [And Not Common Core]” says it slows down American students’ math progression. The problem is becoming so ubiquitous that “Common Core math!” has now become the go-to joke for every math error in the country. It has become the blonde joke of the math world. Caught an adding mistake on your restaurant tab? “Common Core math…haha!” Someone on eBay ship you the wrong t-shirt? “Common Core math!” Your checkbook overdrawn? “Definitely, Common Core math!”

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5. Common Core Is Dominating Political Social Media Threads

Check out the Facebook pages of just about any elected official you can think of who has the ability to make decisions related to Common Core. These days, they can post something about the weather and expect to be greeted with complaints about the state standards.

“How about this great fall weather we’re having?”

“How about you quit looking out the window and repeal Commie Core?”

It’s even worse for politicians who, like Ohio Governor John Kasich recently did, have doubled down on support for the Common Core. Here’s just one example:

Gov. Kasich recently posted this innocuous blurb about jobs on his Facebook page:

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Which led to this response:

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A good percentage of the other 39 comments in that thread were also related to Common Core. These moms and dads armed with cell phones are mad and they know how to use Facebook. Elected officials ignore these parents at their peril.

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4. Common Core Is an Issue in the 2016 Campaign

Last month George Will, in a piece about Chris Christie’s presidential aspirations, noted that Christie recently established a commission “to review the effectiveness” of New Jersey’s student assessments, “including the Common Core State Standards.” “This could be a means of stepping away from the Common Core, support for which will be a huge impediment for any Republican aspirant,” Will said.

A Business Insider article on Jeb Bush’s chances at the nomination said,

How Bush deals with conservative opposition to his stances on immigration and Common Core will likely determine how far he gets in the nomination process, should he choose to run.

Sen. Rand Paul said in a recent interview with Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle,

I don’t see Common Core being—if you’re for Common Core and you’re for a national curriculum, I don’t see it being a winning message in a Republican primary. If there’s a Republican candidate out there—let’s just say there’s a hypothetical one that’s for Common Core. I’m saying that that hypothetical candidate that’s for Common Core probably doesn’t have much chance of winning in a Republican primary.

Sen. Ted Cruz has also been a vocal opponent of the national standards, while Gov. Mike Huckabee has somewhat retreated from his previous enthusiastic support for Common Core.

While Republicans have been staking out their territory on the issue, Hillary Clinton has thus far avoided taking a stand on the specifics of the program. Teachers’ unions are increasingly unhappy with the standards, especially with the increased testing and with tying the assessments to teacher evaluations. Nevertheless, many Democrats do support national standards and increased federalization of education. But Hillary Clinton may decide to distance herself from the Common Core because of its unpopularity and its strong ties to President Obama.

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3. The Anti-Common Core Folks Have Signs — and Swag!

Ordinary Americans — not campaigns or politicians — are paying for things like this out of their own pockets:

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2. They’re Talking About Common Core at the Beauty Shop

Not long ago I was getting my hair done and as I was waiting for my hair color to do its thing, I was eavesdropping on a conversation between two moms. First they were (completely seriously) discussing that urban legend about someone jumping into the back seat of your car at the gas station when you went in to pay for your gas. (You knowthat email your Aunt Stella forwards to you at least twice a year, cc’d to everyone in her address book?) Listening to the conversation, it was clear they believed this was a gang initiation going on all over the country — and they sounded worried.

What does this have to do with Common Core?

It was the oddest thing. I listened as the two women seamlessly transitioned from their fears about this terrible “new” gang initiation to this terrible “new” Common Core math. It sounded like they both had kids in school and these moms were having trouble making heads or tails of the math they saw coming home in the backpacks. They’re not sure exactly what the problem is (and they gave no indication they really understand what the standards are all about), but they sounded worried. And they definitely know that they don’t like that Common Core math!

1. Common Core Has Become the Scapegoat for Everything Wrong with Public Schools

Don’t like the “new” math? Blame Common Core. Does your child’s school spend too much time on its anti-bullying program? It’s Common Core. Think your child’s school doesn’t spend enough time on anti-bullying programs? That’s Common Core, too. Hate your kid’s teacher. Definitely Common Core!

Fair or not (it’s not, really), Common Core has now become the public face of everything wrong with public schools. Actually, the new standards have become the scapegoat for everything that’s been progressively going wrong with public education for the last 100 years. Parents are blaming Common Core for educational practices and lessons that have been common in public schools for decades. But until the hoopla over Common Core began, many parents just left education to the professionals and assumed everything was fine. Unfortunately, our country is now reaping the consequences of several generations of children educated under the progressive education model, designed to train factory workers and keep immigrants in line.

Now, thanks to Common Core, sleeping giant parents have been roused from their slumber and they’re finally beginning to wonder what’s been going on in their kids’ schools.

The takeaway from all of this is that soccer moms with cell phones are facing down powerful lawmakers, lobbyists, and billions of dollars of opposition – and they’re making a difference and beginning to rack up some significant policy victories.