I have been monitoring the hearings at the House Education Committee this week; listening to what attendees are saying; what the lobbyists are saying and the ultimate results and impressions from what by all reports I’ve received was an exhausting, emotional and tumultuous experience.
One central discussion and thread I’ve heard throughout is that Common Core proponents “won” and those opposed “lost”.
I firmly disagree with this analysis although I completely understand why people would feel this way after participating in a similar kangeroo hearing at BESE last year Common Core. After that fiasco I felt the same way for a few days.
If you were expecting Common Core, something billionaires and multi-national corporations have spent hundreds of millions and billions of dollars promoting and buying elections and elected officials to support, you were probably underestimating the problem and what would be needed for a solution.
What happened on Wednesday was corporate interests bussed in and paraded before the House Education Committee carefully coached kids and parents (I heard a 10 year old testified he loved taking the new tests instead of learning new material). Business interests and organizations (like Stand For Children) that get funding specifically to promote Common Core got 4 hours to testify. Numerous real local grassroots parents and children’s groups and hundreds of parents were herded and corralled like animals in a slaughterhouse waiting pensively for their fate and hopeful that they could escape it. Much of what happened was choreographed and rigged for the outcome we received, and our opponents sent congratulatory letters to themselves celebrating their ludicrously contrived “victory”.
This was a strategic battle that we fought this week, and while we did not achieve our ultimate objectives we achieved a number of victories we can build upon going forward.
We forced our enemies on House Ed to formally declare their positions. This makes them targets for both investigation of their finances and campaign contributions as well as for election challenges. ( I heard a survey of parents in Louisiana revealed 79% of parents oppose Common Core. We must ecruit and back political challengers and remove the folks who listen to money more than voters.)
We got Governor Bobby Jindal to formally support the bill to eliminate or redesign our standards. This is something he has hedged on for more than a year. Whether he was sincere or not is an entirely different question, but he has recognized the strength of our coalitions and voices. My hope is that he will use his voice and power to sway the BESE members he appointed and helped get elected, to sway John White – his handpicked Superintendent of Education, and to reign in LABI, whom he reforged in his own image. These groups and individuals are directly reportable to him. (When Jindal’s other appointed officials have testified against his wishes like the former head of Elderly Affairs he had them dismissed the very next day.) They must be instructed by Jindal to support children and parents over profits and make good on the green cards Jindal’s office presented supporting student privacy legislation and Common Core elimination legislation. I’d be disappointed if this was simply a calculated political stunt where Jindal publicly supported something while privately instructed his appointees to kill it. I think that would be one of the most significant breaks in public trust an elected official could undertake ( that doesn’t involve jailtime.)
We also won recognition in the media that this is a serious issue to thousands of parents across Louisiana and across the political spectrum. This is a broadbased grassroots populist movement and we have the time, numbers and votes on our side to remove the political leaders from office that support themselves and not their constituents.
We also opened many eyes that witnessed the abasement of our political system; the prominent corruption, the blatant disregard for parents and childrens rights. We saw corporations actually tell our legislature that our children belong to them, not us. We saw the lengths and lies these folks were willing to tell on record that we can tear apart at our leisure.
These are just some of the victories I see. These victories are huge, but we must capitalize on them.
I urge you all to make long term plans to continue this war. I will have details on this in the coming days. This was one battle, an opening salvo on a single front in a war on Public Education and for our children. Many more of our neighbors now see this corruption up close and very personal.
Our enemies (these corporations and bought politicians) made a terrible mistake that will cost them dearly in the times ahead. They came for our children.