Sunday, June 02, 2013

Towards a More Perfect Moron

Teabaggers rally to make America even stupider.

From the WaPo (h/t David Axelrod from the neighborhood):
Tea party groups mobilizing against Common Core education overhaul

By Peter Wallsten and Lyndsey Layton,
Published: May 30

Tea party groups over the past few weeks have suddenly and successfully pressured Republican governors to reassess their support for a rare bipartisan initiative backed by President Obama to overhaul the nation’s public schools.

Activists have donned matching T-shirts and packed buses bound for state legislative hearing rooms in Harrisburg, Pa., grilled Georgia education officials at a local Republican Party breakfast and deluged Michigan lawmakers with phone calls urging opposition to the Common Core State Standards.

The burst of activity marks the newest front for the tea party movement, which has lacked a cohesive goal since it coalesced in 2010 in opposition to Obama’s health-care initiative.

The movement has a renewed sense of purpose and energy following revelations that many of its groups were improperly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service, and members consider dismantling what some deride as “Obamacore” their newest cause. Unlike the health-care fight, though, organizers say the Common Core battle is winnable and could be a potential watershed moment.

“This is the issue that could change things for the tea party movement,” said Lee Ann Burkholder, founder of the 9/12 Patriots in York, Pa., which drew 400 people — more than twice the usual turnout — to a recent meeting to discuss agitating against Common Core.

Lawmakers have responded by introducing legislation that would at least temporarily block the standards in at least nine states, including two that have put the program on hold. The Republican governors of Indiana and Pennsylvania quickly agreed to pause Common Core, and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), a vocal supporter of the plan, is nevertheless expected to accept a budget agreement struck by GOP legislators that would withhold funding for the program pending further debate.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) — who, like the other targeted governors, is facing reelection next year — said, “We didn’t see it coming with the intensity that it is, apparently all across the country.” Deal has responded by signing an executive order “reaffirming state sovereignty” over education matters, but that hasn’t stopped conservatives from trying to undo the standards.

The White House has promoted Common Core, written by governors and state education officials in both parties and largely funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to create consistent math and reading standards from kindergarten through 12th grade. Academic standards vary widely among states, and that patchwork nature has been partly blamed for mediocre rankings of U.S. students in international comparisons.

The standards do not dictate curriculum. Rather, states decide what to teach and how to prepare children for standardized tests based on Common Core.
For the last decade or more, across every partisan line you can imagine, there has been near-unanimity among business and trade organization, unions and long-range economic forecasters: the Boomer-retirement demographic bulge is going to leave the American economy dangerously understaffed and overstretched for years to come.

Worse yet, the jobs which Boomers held back when they were entering the labor force or growing their careers -- especially in sectors like technology and manufacturing -- are largely gone.  Businesses today that depend on skilled labor rely on people who started their working life with a better basic high school education than most high-schoolers have today...and who then have spent a lifetime acquiring and refining their skills.

Worse still, just as they need fresh troops to show up -- well-trained and ready to work on complex, expensive equipment -- businesses owners all over the country have discovered that -- just like our roads and bridges -- reinvesting in and updating our educational infrastructure has also been something we have spent the last 30 years blowing off.

We don't want to spend the time or the money it would take to do the job right.  We don't want to face the fact that, as opportunities for women and minorities, the free market has lured away millions of potentially excellent teachers who have understandably opted not to spend a fortune on acquiring multiple degrees in order to live lives of near-poverty...all while being told they are personally responsible for solving every social problem in America at the same time they are being shit on by wingnuts for being "union thugs".

The good news is, as bad as things are, they are fixable (buy me a beer sometime and I'll run down 20 good ideas for reforming education): with enough prioritized effort and money, within a decade we could have an America system of lifelong learning could be the envy of the world.

Or at every fucking crossroads we could instead opt to sprint as fast as possible in the direction of doing the stupidest possible thing at the worst possible time.

Because Freedumb!


Demian said...

Much easier to imagine ourselves the envy of the world than to, like, do anything about it. Or so history teaches. But maybe do a post with ideas on education for those out of beer range?

Canadian Patriot said...

A well-educated people is the foundation of democracy. To be stupid and free is impossible. And to allow something as abominable as destroy education is a service to evil.

Anonymous said...

Guaranteeing that the Blue States will have to carry the weight of the Red States for generations to come. Socialists.

kfreed said...

We all know the reason Teapublicans oppose Common Core (standards!). Because it would put the kibosh on the teaching of this dreck:

Anonymous said...

Stop perpetuating the myth that American schools are worse than they used to be. This myth is false and damaging and has been used to undermine public education

Kids today are getting a far better education then we ever got.

USA test scores have been improving consistently since the 1970s. Please check out the NAEP website for the data.

Black kids in particular have made drastic improvements. For example Black 4th graders today score as well in reading and math as white 4th graders did in 1994.

Batocchio said...

Conservatives have openly expressed their hostility to teaching critical thinking skills.

The one major flaw I've seen with Common Core is their dictate about increasingly teaching nonfiction over fiction (something Ann Althouse also favors, by the way). It's supposed to occur across the curriculum, but the devil is in the details. Frankly, the dictate is idiotic, all the more so because they don't truly justify it (where are the cited pedagogical studies?) and they don't really dictate curriculum otherwise. A student who can handle reading a complex poem, play or novel can tackle advanced nonfiction, and familiarity with ambiguity and unreliable narrators will come in extremely useful. Reading skills specific to nonfiction can and should be taught, but at good schools, they already are. The dictate smacks of personal bias and the same fetishization of worker training that led to meddling the University of Virginia. Hands off the arts, which should get more attention, not less! Similarly, let's not forget that many "reformers" such as the corporate-backed Michelle Rhee are snake oil salesman. Not all reforms are created equal, nor are all objections to them. (Ah, I could go on…)

Valentina said...

This is cool!