Thus far, the most vocal and sustained criticism of the Common Core Standards being relentlessly promoted by Arne Duncan and the other “reformers” in the Department of Education has come from Progressives—that is, President Obama’s own supporters. Of course, the objection is that the administration has wholly and enthusiastically embraced what was a Republican idea—for no apparent reason other than it was all too easy to do so and doing so would reinforce the notion that the President is trying very valiantly to be bipartisan with a Republican opposition that is very determined to be as partisan as possible. As a result, the teachers’ unions, which have very strongly supported the president in two elections, are being discounted—are very casually being thrown under the bus–for the sake of a completely empty talking point that is all the more pointless now that the President is term-limited.
It was, of course, entirely predictable—and completely and consistently illogically so—that because the President was promoting Common Core Standards, the Far Right would ultimately have to come round to opposing them. On this issue, the Tea Party has become increasingly vocal and, as on many other issues, very oppositional to the corporate wing of the Republican party, which has been trying to privatize public education for five or six decades—starting basically with the judicial decisions to desegregate the schools but intensifying as the teachers’ unions became more politically engaged in the 1960s and 1970s and then as the teachers’ unions became more prominent in the labor movement than the industrial unions during the 1980s and 1990s.
So, it is, of course, entirely predictable—and completely and consistently illogically so—that Republicans with aspirations to be the party’s nominee for the presidency in 2016 will be completely changing their positions on Common Core Standards in order to, they will insist, remain consistent with the Conservative principles that they have always upheld even as their actual positions on specific issues have degenerated into an extended exercise in self-contradiction.
Thus, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has now issued an executive order to withdraw his state from the Common Core standards and federally subsidized standardized tests. In the process of issuing this executive order, he has confounded the Republican-dominated state legislature, his own superintendent of education and the state’s business community, all of whom still share his previously passionate support of Common Core Standards and standardized testing.
I would like to emphasize that in order to reject everything associated with President Obama, Jindal is resorting to the practice of issuing executive orders, as if he is completely unaware that Republicans everywhere have been very vocally criticizing the President for resorting to them.
Nonetheless, at a press conference, Jindal asserted, “We want out of Common Core. We’re very alarmed about choice and local control of curriculum being taken away from our parents and educators. It is never too late to make the right decision.”
To be clear, Jindal was not just a supporter of the Common Core standards; in 2010, he was the primary driver of the adoption of those standards in his state. As recently as this past spring, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation distributed a video promoting the standards, and that video prominently included a clip of Jindal praising the Common Core as a way to “raise expectations for every child.”
Arne Duncan has, of course, pointlessly chastised Jindal for now completely rejecting the standards that he so recently and passionately supported, accusing Jindal of playing politics with children’s educations and their futures–as if anyone, least of all Duncan himself, has not been endlessly and destructively playing politics with public education in this country.
Jindal embraced the opportunity to throw red meat to the Far Right by asserting: “We will not be bullied by the federal government.”
So, to sum this all up, the Common Core standards and standardized testing are a load of crap, and Arne Duncan is promoting them because he has no actual credentials or standards as an educator and has sold his soul to the corporate “reformers.” The Far Right should be for the standards because, like “Obamacare,” they are actually a Republican idea. But, because the Far Right is determined to oppose anything that the Kenyan Muslim is supporting, they are now arguing vehemently against their own ideas. And Bobby Jindal has proven once again that he knows how to lead by following the mob. Indeed, his unerring instinct for highlighting his very principled lack of principles has kept him in the national spotlight as one of the most haplessly inept politicians hopelessly courting the lunatic fringe of the Far Right.