Many of us that oppose Common Core have said “this is not left-vs.-right issue but a right-vs.-wrong issue.” Although we say this with sincerity, Democrat legislators in Massachusetts did not get the memo.
In late April 2014 the Massachusetts House debated and passed their 2015 budget. They could find room in their hearts to pass only one (#16) of several amendments seeking to pause, review, or stop Common Core and PARCC in Massachusetts.
In May 2014, the Massachusetts Senate debated and passed their 2015 budget. They found no room in their hearts to pass any of several amendments seeking to pause, review, or stop Common Core and PARCC in Massachusetts.
Overall, it was not even close. Massachusetts’ 2015 budget will not include anything to slow down, analyze, or stop Common Core or PARCC. Democratic legislators fell in line with their party. They supported Common Core and PARCC against the vocal wishes of many parents within their districts. In liberal Massachusetts, we can draw a line from Arne Duncan to Barack Obama to Deval Patrick to Mitchell Chester to State Senators to State Representatives. Everyone is falling in line. It is gross.
But there is a problem for our State Reps and Senators.
State Reps and Senators in Massachusetts have gone on record. They have rejected calls to stop Common Core and PARCC.
Liberal parents in Massachusetts have been absent from the conversation. So far.
Remember when our country was embroiled in the debate over Obamacare? Liberals were vocal. They fiercely stood up for what they believed in. When legislators supported Obamacare, they knew that many liberal constituents had their backs.
Yeah, this is nothing like that.
Liberal parents in Massachusetts have been largely absent from the Common Core conversation. They see Glenn Beck fighting Common Core and they assume Common Core is some hysterical right wing tin foil hat nut job conspiracy theory. They see Republicans rejecting PARCC and they assume it is a bunch of wack-job parents thinking that the government is out to steal their children.
Sooner or later liberal parents in Massachusetts will learn that opposition to Common Core appeals to all of us. They will learn that in May 2014 the Massachusetts Teachers Union elected a new leader, one that is opposed to Common Core. They will see that Common Core reduces teacher autonomy and replaces it with a focus on cumbersome high stakes testing. They will learn that Common Core reduces academic standards in Massachusetts. They will cringe to see all the corporatism and profiteering in the national business of education. They will find out that Common Core standards have never been field tested. They will read Diane Ravitch, an education historian and a liberal to the core, is adamantly opposed to Common Core in her book “Reign of Error”. (As a libertarian, I disagree with Ravitch on so many of her positions in her book, but we find plenty of common ground to oppose Common Core.)
From a US News article, “The Common Core opposition, however, includes some traditional allies of the Obama administration, including parent-teacher organizations in a state that voted overwhelmingly for the president’s re-election, and the National Education Association (NEA), one of the country’s most powerful teachers’ unions.”
It continues with “Liberals broadly agree that American students need to catch up with education leaders in the rest of the world. But in Common Core they see a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach, drafted in private, that ignores how teachers teach and how children learn.”
At some point liberal voters will get into the discussion. When they do, Massachusetts House and Senate Democrat legislators will need to square up their Common Core & PARCC support with their voting bases. Indiana, for example, joined and then dropped Common Core. Oklahoma is almost out too. Many other states are having their own internal struggles with Common Core and PARCC.
This November Massachusetts will have a Governor seat, 160 House seats, and 40 Senate seats up for grabs. As a libertarian, I generally gravitate away from the mainstream Republican candidates, but I will be watching Charlie Baker with interest. Baker already staked his position against Common Core in 2010. It will be interesting to see if team Baker shines a bright light on Common Core. It could become a defining campaign issue in this Governor’s race. If so, it will also become an issue for House and Senate seats too. Our Democrat legislators seeking reelection will be politically naked. They have already legislatively supported Common Core and PARCC. How will they pivot with their voting bases’ eventual dissent on Common Core and PARCC? The door may crack open for Republican and Independent candidates to win seats. Massachusetts might be a “liberal state”, but nearly 50% of our voters are “unenrolled” in a political party. Time will tell if that “Independence” will yield a change in legislators with a rejection of Common Core and PARCC.
For the sake of our children in Massachusetts, I will be rooting for the unseating of many incumbents in Massachusetts this November.
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