by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
There are two ways to look at the policy implications of this.
1. The National Education Association (NEA) dislikes President Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan because he (and his boss) do crazy things like acknowledge that many of our at-risk kids have poor or mediocre teachers. Talk about good and bad teachers makes the NEA uncomfortable because it invites performance pay and other notions heretical to teacher unions.
2. The NEA’s announcement means that Obama is going to have a hard time finding allies for his plan. Conservatives and liberals object to the Obama administration’s support for Common Core via Race to the Top, the testing consortia, and Duncan’s passive aggressive threats directed to states considering ditching common standards and/or tests. In addition, conservatives believe that Duncan has no authority to grants waivers to a law passed by Congress and signed by President Bush – No Child Left Behind, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Liberals don’t like Duncan and Obama’s (rather tacit) support of charter schools, performance pay, educational productivity, and other evidence-based reforms.
Having alienated both sides of the political spectrum, who is left? Unfortunately for the Obama administration, mostly Common Core’s authors and “true believers” remain. This includes the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governor’s Association, Achieve, the Fordham Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, huge multinational corporations and conglomerates, etc. While all are very wealthy and influential entities, their ties to Common Core may undermine popular support Obama’s other education initiatives, some of which have merit.