Common Core foes are telling families that their children shouldn't read Ovid. Or much else.

Common Core foes are telling families that their children shouldn’t read Ovid. Or much else.

Over the past few months, I’ve read plenty about Common Core reading and math standards — and even more from those who oppose the standards. And I have to say, I am insulted by their misinformation campaigns. By failing to be honest about the standards and about the challenges our children — especially those who are black like mine — and attacking a reform that is needed for our children to gain much-needed knowledge, Common Core foes are not using their time to take on the problems of public education today that have been around long before the standards came into place.

wpid10020-wpid-this_is_dropout_nation_logo2.pngCommon Core opponents like to say that the standards are incomprehensible. Yet I, a mother, can understand what it means to “Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text”, and “Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.” Contrary to what Common Core opponents say, the standards can be understood by parents, and there are resources that can be used to learn about them. The exemplar texts in literature and nonfiction are also helpful. If implemented properly, they will help our children, especially mine and yours, become ready for the adult world.

I take issue with the misinformation about Common Core from its opponents as well as with the condescension toward parents inherent in their cynical campaigning. But I have two even bigger issues with Common Core opponents: That they blame standards that are just being implemented for the problems of an education system that has been unaccountable at all levels for decades; and that foes of the standards don’t seem willing to join with school reformers and Parent Power activists to take on those problems.

Long before Common Core, taxpayer dollars were poured into public schools regardless of whether or not they performed effectively for our children. Even now, amid school closings and turnaround efforts, districts and schools failing students get money no matter how bad they are the same way districts and schools serving students well. Where are Common Core opponents in addressing those issues?

Before Common Core, taxpayer dollars were spent on programs that were poorly overseen, and didn’t improve student outcomes. More importantly, neither politicians nor administrators nor teachers’ unions or teachers were expecting or demanding those programs to be successful. Again, where are Common Core foes in demanding fiscal and academic accountability?

Long before Common Core opponents complained about the standards, school systems were hiring teachers and school leaders who were incompetent and ineffective in working with our children. Those ineffective teachers and administrators, in turn, came out of schools of education that never took responsibility for properly instructing them. Will Common Core opponents take action against any of this?

Before Common Core became part of the national conversation, our districts and schools have been staffed by men and women who don’t believe black and brown children are capable of college-and-career learning, people who do not think highly of Latino and poor white children, and through social promotion policies, evade their obligations to teach all children well. What are Common Core foes willing to do about it?

Common Core opponents should be more concerned about biology teachers who can’t teach being hired in classrooms than about whether children are finally being given the opportunity to learn what is needed in order to think critically, analyze rationally, and read at levels expected of them when they become adults. Common Core opponents should take on practices in schools that limit the possibilities of all children, not become part of a status quo that works daily to stymie their potential. And if Common Core misinformation specialists truly want the best for every child, they shouldn’t stand with the status quo in giving them the worst.

By spreading misinformation about Common Core, opponents of the standards are also keeping mothers and fathers and caregivers from being well-informed decision-makers who can take power in education for our babies. It is bad enough than in the 43 states where Parent Trigger laws don’t exist (and the states where school choice is not plentiful), parents are deliberately excluded from critical conversations and decision-making efforts. Even as many Common Core opponents say that families should be making decisions about the standards, their own efforts are no different than that of traditionalists who blame parents for their own shortcomings even as they exclude families from even choosing the brand of toilet paper in school bathrooms.

This isn’t to say that Common Core is being effectively implemented as it should be. You can’t provide America’s children with high standards without putting in place an accountability system centered on students that insure that they will be taught what should be learned. But no one can seriously blame today’s Common Core standards for our antiquated, fundamentally unaccountable educational system. And no one can see these challenges and say in an honest way that Common Core is the problem and not part of the solution.