Sunday, April 27, 2014

Steve Kornacki & The New Narrative

The old narrative attributed Common Core opposition to the Tin Hat Wing of the Tea Party Wing of the GOP. Arne Duncan was fond of claiming that opponents were just a fringe group of (probably racist) looney tunes who could be easily dismissed. Good dependable conservatives, like, say, Jeb Bush, were those who distanced themselves from the crazypants wing of their party. Hey-- if those crazy tin hat folks were claiming that CCSS was federal overreach and bad policy, that must mean the Core are totally okay, right?

Well, that narrative has been failing for any number of reasons, not the least of which being that it's severely truth-impaired.

Clearly there are CCSS critics on the Left, and clearly association with the Tea Party hasn't been enough to scare turncoats like Bobby "Local Control" Jindal into behaving themselves and keeping in line with other solid corporate conservatives.

So what can we do? What's a new narrative that would both explain Core opposition from the Left AND present conservatives with another toxic boogeyman with which they don't want to be associated?

How about teachers' unions!

Enter The Daily Beast and its screeching story about the "unholy alliance between the Tea Party and the teachers' unions." I might have taken that for a one-off, but today over at MSNBC, a network deeply devoted to the corporate masters of the Core, we have this story from Steve Kornacki.

Kornacki is a kinder, gentler reporter than the overwrought Beast, but his point is the same. His chronology of the Core's genesis isn't all that far off, but he winds his way around to an explanation of why the Core's conservative supporters are suddenly flipping their flops. Kornacki acknowledges that the rollout of Common Core testing has freaked out a lot of parents and teachers, but he arrives quickly at the real game changer, the new opposition from the NEA and the AFT.

This will come as a shock to all the union members who have been begging the NEA and AFT to pull their faces out of the Common Core's hindquarters. But on-- Kornacki says politicians now face the difficult task of navigating between the Tea Party on the right and some organized teacher groups on the left.

There's a good seven minutes of discussion between an assortment of folks including Rob Astorino, Lindsay Layton from the WaPo, Jim Douglas, and NJ teacher Wendell Steinhauser. I am going to brush past them really quickly.

Layton: Boring history of standards attempts going back to Eisenhower. All Presidential, all failures. DOE started with specific no-touchy-states mandate.

Kornacki: But when "they" created Core, they thought they had threaded the needle.

Layton: And so it went very quickly with success until now, because it came from the states. (Did the WaPo send an education reporter?)

Kornacki: Why I am hearing so much resistance all of a sudden from Republicans, Astorino?

Astorino: I don't think it's just from Republicans. Astorino sets up the ordinary citizens angle, namechecks his kids, talks about homework, ticks off the inappropriateness of the requirements and the problems of IEP students. He gets what they want, but one size fits all, everybody crossing same finish line at same time, just doesn't happen. Oh, come be Governor of PA, Rob Astorino. Differences between on paper and in real life. Three weeks wasted on test prep. This whole thing is a huge untested experiment. Bill Gate "we'll find out in ten years." Don't like the idea of my child being a lab rat, and by the way this is expensive. He is strong and confident, yet pleasant and not at all mean or grumpy.

And BOOM-- in about three minutes, Astorino delivers a Master Class in how to run on opposition to the Common Core. I'm going to put up a second link to the clip, just so you can watch that.

Douglass: Former VT and NGA head for CCSS is perplexed. And here is a great new narrative bit-- because remember how NCLB was a federal program pushing into states. The Governors created CCSS BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO PUSH BACK!! The Common Core are a blow for states' rights! How about THAT, you conservative opponents. Also, employers wanted it and 30th in world on standardized test scores, wah.

Steinhauser: NJEA guy who likes standards, hates testing. PARCC sucks, and that's why the pushback. Overtesting is bad. Also, talking is hard.

There is apparently more after the break, but I have seen plenty. Our lessons for the day.

1) Tea Party and Teachers' Unions oppose the Core. Don't you hate those guys? Don't you love the Core now?

2) The CCSS were a blow against the federal government.

3) Rob Astorino is a guy to pay attention to.


  1. I agree, Astorino knows how to deliver CCSS criticism succinctly, accurately and handily. He's a former radio producer, so he knows media and soundbites better than most.

    I like Astorino, I've put some of his videos up on my blog and I've enjoyed his criticism to CCSS and the Endless Testing regime.

    However, something to know about Astorino is, he may not believe all he's saying.

    Here's something he said back a few months ago, before it became politically expedient for him to jump completely on the anti-CCSS express (what he calls Cuomo's Common Core.)

    Notice the "standardized testing is a good thing ..." statement from January is now out of his stump rhetoric.

    Is that gone because he no longer believes that?

    Or is it gone because it's no longer expedient to have it in there?

    Just something to note about him.

  2. I'm just going to take comfort that opposing CCSS can now be seen as expedient. I'm too old to wait for a politician who says exactly what he means.

    1. Touche. And you're right, that it's now expedient for some politicians to oppose CCSS is big movement in the right direction.

    2. And you're correct that we should never get so excited to hear someone in our corner that we stop paying attention to what he's really thinking.