You know things have gotten weird when Karen Lewis, head of the Chicago Teachers Union, and George Will, stalwart conservative commentator, reach a consensus. In this case the area of agreement is the Common Core, a set of uniform standards adopted by 45 states, which Will contends “disregards the creativity of federalism.” (Peggy Noonan, who reports on Will’s TV eruption, agrees: in her most recent column she writes “Who even picked the ugly name—Common Core sounds common, except to the extent to which it sounds Soviet. Maybe it was the people who dreamed up the phrase “homeland security.”)
Lewis has spearheaded a CTU resolution that claims that the Common Core”contains numerous developmentally inappropriate expectations” and “reflect[s] the interests and priorities of corporate education reformers.”
Let’s leave aside the fact that most American school teachers praise the new standards*, as does Dennis van Roekel, head of the NEA. Check out this great Stephen Sawchuk’s analysis in EdWeek on how Lewis has pushed AFT’s Randi Weingarten to rail against the Common Core despite her previous advocacy. (Maybe she’s taking Diane Ravitch lessons.) Sawchuk also points out a variety of factual errors in the CTU resolution.
Is the CTU perpetuating these claims with its own members? Hard to tell, but in the release, Lewis is quoted as saying that the common core “represents an overreach of federal power into personal privacy as well as into state educational autonomy.” That line is also notable because it echoes the strains of conservative opposition to the standards, whereas the CTU leans quite left politically.The bottom line: Unions have, to date, been among the common standards’ greatest supporters. With declarations like this, though, some of them could end up being the standards’ worst enemies.
*From a recent survey: “An overwhelming majority of teachers feel that the quality of the CCSS is at least on par with their states’ prior standards.” And, “on the whole, teachers also agree that implementing the common standards will help them to improve their own teaching and classroom practices.”