"I find it fascinating that some of the opposition to the Common Core State Standards has come from white suburban moms who -- all of a sudden -- their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn't quite as good as they thought they were."
This statement came from Arne Ducan, the U.S. Education Secretary as he spoke to a group of school leaders on Friday. You can read the story here, but really there's not much more you need to know, because those few sentences say it all. The backlash from parents who are in an uproar over Common Core and what they are seeing in their children has hit, and it's hit hard. The problem with Mr. Duncan's statement isn't that he called out white suburban moms, it's that he made it pretty obvious that he's not listening to anyone, including us pesky white suburban moms.
So, hey, Mr. Duncan, I'm not sure if you read my blog post that was posted on October 2nd, titled "How Common Core Is Slowly Changing My Child." This post went viral in less than 24 hours and was read by over one million people. Mr. Duncan, white suburban moms weren't the only people reading. They certainly weren't the only people commenting. I can show you that the comments and feedback received were from people from all walks of life. The blog stats show readership in over 185 countries. (What's up, Uzbekistan? How we doing today?) I'm not sure if moms in Belarus or Armenia make up the white suburban mom demographic that you speak about, but they read and they commented. Most, Mr. Duncan, agreed.
Mr. Duncan, who cares if it's white suburban moms who oppose the new Common Core standards? Who cares if it's moms from the city, rural areas, or stay at home dads? The point is, people are unhappy and part of your job is to listen. Clearly, you're not.
We (and by we, I mean all of us. City folks, suburban dads, and yes, the angry white moms) are taking action and creating grassroots efforts to help our children. We don't think our kids are brilliant geniuses, we don't expect them to get straight A's just for showing up to school, but we do expect them to be children. Watching our kids cry over simple division because they know the answer but the new and "improved" common core math requires work to be shown three additional ways; three additional ways that are confusing even to the teachers and parents. Three additional ways that now create room for error, even though they already computed the answer correctly in the first place. It's watching our kids struggle over Common Core issued module reading like "Waiting For the Biblioburro" that takes place in Mexico, so many words on each page are in Spanish. Yes, expanding a child's horizon to other cultures is important, and yes learning a new language is going to be imperative for their future, but third graders who are not yet expert readers now have to decode and comprehend bilingual texts.
As long as my kids try their hardest, I don't care if they receive average or below average grades, Mr. Duncan. I certainly received my share of mediocre grades, so I'm not expecting everything to come easily for my children. The point that all of us parents who are willing to speak up are angered about, is how this whole Common Core business is being implemented. It's how much testing is taking place, how much test prep is happening in the classroom due to the Common Core assessments and how much they play into our teacher's evaluations (you can read more about that here). We are sick and tired of watching our kids who previously enjoyed school, who learned in all four learning styles, who had teachers who were able to use their professional experience and judgement to teach class without using modules, now come home exhausted and dispirited because their school day revolved around doing close reads for 90 minutes and a two-hour math block. Mr. Duncan, can you sit still for 210 minutes and focus on one particular task? My guess is no, not without a coffee refill and a quick diversion to that incoming email. These kids are 5, 6, 7 years old and they're not getting an email or coffee break.
Mostly, we're tired of people pointing fingers at us, as if we're doing something wrong by showing an active involvement in our children's education. Mr. Duncan, you've angered more people than just the white suburban moms. I suggest you listen a bit more closely.
Mrs Momblog, White Suburban Mom and Teacher