High Standards for All Schools and Students, Everywhere

We have a tendency in our fast-moving world to focus on controversial-sounding soundbites, instead of the complex policy debates that underlie them. Unfortunately, I recently played into that dynamic. A few days ago, in a discussion with state education chiefs, I used some clumsy phrasing that I regret – particularly because it distracted from an important conversation about how to better prepare all of America’s students for success.

In talking about the importance of communicating about higher learning standards, I singled out one group of parents when my aim was to say that we need to communicate better to all groups – especially those that haven’t been well reached in this conversation. I have not been shy in letting the country know the enormous value of the state-led movement to prepare young people for college and careers. My goal was to urge elected leaders and educators to be more vigorous in making that case, too, particularly when recent polling shows that a majority of Americans may not even know what these higher standards are.

More rigorous standards for what students should know and be able to do have the potential to drive much-needed improvements in America’s classrooms. The state-created standards known as the Common Core are widely supported by teachers—three-quarters of whom have said in surveys that higher standards will improve instruction—and by leaders from both sides of the aisle. Republican Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas, has written, “From an economic and workforce development perspective, these standards are critical.” Democratic Governor Jack Markell of Delaware has said these standards emphasize “the ability of our next generation of workers – your kids, our kids – to apply lessons learned in the classroom to real-world situations.”

I want to encourage a difficult conversation and challenge the underlying assumption that when we talk about the need to improve our nation’s schools, we are talking only about poor minority students in inner cities.

This is simply not true. Research demonstrates that as a country, every demographic group has room for improvement. Raising standards has come with challenging news in a variety of places; scores have dropped as a result of a more realistic assessment of students’ knowledge and skills.

Every parent wants the best for their children. Every parent deserves accurate information about how their kids are doing in school. And every community can be doing more to challenge all its students and bring out their individual brilliance.

As a parent of two children in public school, I know no one enjoys hearing tough news from school, but we need the truth – and we need to act on it. The truth is we should be frustrated that as students, parents, and citizens, we’ve been hiding the educational reality, particularly as other countries are rapidly passing us by in preparing their students for today and tomorrow’s economy. However, we should use this passion to say that the status quo is not acceptable and that we want more for all students.

Good communication matters, because the transition to higher standards isn’t easy. While the work of implementing reform is absolutely challenging, it’s time to come together to do what’s necessary to provide all our students the educational opportunities they truly deserve.

Let’s get back to that conversation, because it’s an important one for our country.

Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education

51 Comments

  1. Keep up the fight, Arne. If they gave me your job I’d be throwing bricks until they hauled me away. You have more tact than that – despite the slings you endure. (God, just look at these comments!)

    Anyway, I wish you the best.

  2. Clumsy wording, or subconscious, Freudian slip? Check out this wording: “we need to communicate better to all groups.” Not communicate better WITH but TO. That’s ego-driven arrogance, Mr. Duncan. You need to own it. You’re not LISTENING and you’re not respecting women. Those of us who have spent long hours homeschooling and trying to educate schools on how OUR kids learn see right through the arrogance to your own unhealed wounds. You need to do some shadow work because your ego is standing in the way of helping kids, and it’s causing you to continue to disrespect women and in fact, all parents who are trying to improve schools and help their kids and others’ kids. Drop the defensiveness, own it, and do the work.

  3. Mr Duncan,
    I am The Indignant Teacher who was mentioned in a comment above. I hope you took time to read my post, although i really can’t take credit for it. I am a 15 year veteran teacher in the Boston public schools. My brother is on the Boston city council, & while i don’t typically acknowledge that, here i will. In October i uprooted my 3 boys (grades 1,2,&4) and moved to Dubai. Id never have done that if not for the policies you have put in place, so i thank you. I am now the special needs coordinator at a school her, & my boys are – for the first time – loving and thriving in their education. I have to disagree with your statement about teachers supporting what you’re doing. You are wrong. This disaster you’ve created needs to stop. Listen to those of us on the front line, sir, before you ruin an entire generation.please. Id be happy to speak with you about this further any time.
    Respectfully,
    Jill O’Malley Conroy, MS

  4. Dear Mr. Duncan,

    Forget about that “clumsy phrasing” for a moment. Could you explain please why do you keep sticking your federal nose into what you keep calling “state-led movement” and “state-created standards”? Doesn’t it make it quite clear that you yourself don’t believe in what you say when you call it “state-led”?

  5. While I have to agree that the recent press about your comments distracted from the real issue at hand, I do not think the Common Core is the answer to those problems. As a college student myself, I’m well aware of many of the shortcomings of or current education system and increasing the pressure for schools to deliver results based on this “Common Core” set of standards does not guarantee improvements in the education system in the long-run. What is needed is a huge shift in the way education is looked at and the way teachers teach. The age-old methods of teaching aren’t necessarily the best, and there are more studies coming out every month that suggest such a claim. Education reform has to start with the way people teach, not by just piling on more checkpoints and requirements. Standardized tests do not represent a person’s entire intelligence and ability, just like these Common Core standards will fail to do. I’m not as concerned with the rash comments made as I am with the fact that education is the single most important thing in a society for perpetuating growth and innovation, and our country needs quite a bit of work to build a better education system. These Common Core standards are just another step in the wrong direction.

  6. Mr. Duncan —
    No, I don’t think the CCSS are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Neither are they evil. But they are flawed in some/many places. More real input should have been considered in their drafting. At best they are a good first draft. Implementation is greatly flawed in certain states (NY comes to mind). Other states are doing okay, considering the too-short timelines. The assessments will be state-of-the-art, but, again, rolled out with much too short times. I would give the states efforts grades from D- to B+. The USDOE overall I would give a C-. Your recent remarks and “clarifications” — well, just read them and then grade them yourself.

  7. Wow – I’d thought I’d simply suggest that one never write “research demonstrates” without citing the research, but then I read all the comments.
    As an educator, I have had many conversations with colleagues of all political stripes about the Common Core standards, and these conversations are involved and nuanced, recognizing the complexity of the ideas and implementation of standards in schools.
    The comments, though, read like a set of talking points from one political perspective without appreciating the challenging work we face in our country following years of overly simplified “accountability” in the form of testing. How sad that what’s been posted in replies here is steeped in that same oversimplification.

  8. It may have been clumsy phrasing, but you are 100% correct.

    I live in Montgomery County and all these folks upset about the Common Core — before it is even fully understood and implemented — are upset because their child is no longer pulled out of class and labeled ‘gifted’ artificially.

    If the kid is smart enough, they’ll do well even without the labels. And I’m speaking as a parent of three (3rd, 5th, and 8th) in public schools. Oh, and I’m one of those suburban moms (I also work and am an academic so I get how important school is…)

    When I heard what you said on NPR, I laughed out loud because it was so incredibly spot on. It was great…. and then I needed to look up your blog to give you some positive feedback.

    – Kirsten

    • Um…. White Suburban Mom from MoCo here, and that’s not why *I* am upset about Common Core. My kids who have been labeled “gifted” (by MCPS, FWIW, not just a mommy-diagnosis) are both having a harder time this year than ever before: one is bored beyond belief with a math class that is simply reviewing what she had last year, while the other is being given algebra in early elementary school and is routinely spending over an hour nightly on her homework, which is far too long for K-3.

      But thanks so much for painting me with such a broad brush, and for assigning motives to my feelings and actions without even knowing me. It’s lovely to know that my fellow MCPS parents are laughing at me without even really knowing why I’m unhappy with Common Core.

  9. The Secretary is right on. I’ve spent 23 years in Higher Education and my college never once passed up a chance to lower standards. From mastery to basics to grading on a curve. They lower standards but their paychecks keep getting larger! It’s called racket. I’ve left teaching because of the scary lack of integrity of the bean counters. Sad. Go get em’ Secretary Duncan. You tell the truth to educators and Pandora’s Box flies open!

    • Arne and his pals are the one who have set the standards in public schools, NOT the teachers. I can’t speak for Higher Education, but Common Core doesn’t reach that far. Yet.

  10. Mr. Duncan,

    The mistake you made was believing you could use racist, misogynistic slander to label a group that was calling attention to all the mistruths being spread about Common Core Standards. You believed you would discredit us. This group of “Suburban white moms” is a actually a well-informed force, encompassing every demographic, race and nationality. We are parents, grandparents, caregivers, aunts and uncles. We are teachers, principals, superintendents and board members. We are every profession you can think of and many of us have many more years of educational experience than you. We are not a “special interest” group as NYS commissioner King believes. Wr are individuals who have researched for hours, days and weeks. We have read documents, articles, blogs, attended forums and heard hours of testimony from people who are actually experiencing the Common Core Standards. We are the people who will protect our children from those who are trying to buy them for their own investment. We will not allow it. And we are just getting started.
    Your statement of the Common Core standards being state created is untrue. You are afraid that this group of warriors, fighting to save our children, will bring that truth to light. The associations who created the Standards were not educators and had no business writing standards for education. In fact, the only educators involved refused to support them.
    Your statement that these standards are rigorous, is a lie, because in actuality, they are rigid, and do not allow for school districts to have any flexibility. They are developmentally inappropriate, and do not take into account, children’s cognitive abilities.
    I would like to see eveidence regarding higher standards supporting schools in poverty stricken neighborhoods. Common sense would lead anyone with educational experience to believe what would support these schools most is, steady income, parental support for students, and smaller class sizes. In addition, where is the evidence of high performing school districts needing higher standards? It seems that many school districts excelled, and supplied our highest level universities with students prepared to enter, along with college credits. Perhaps our students were college and career ready before Common Core standards and the problem is that after attaining college degrees, there are no jobs for them to attain. Maybe the problem is not preparing students but increasing our number of available jobs.
    I am glad you want to encourage a difficult conversation because it is quite a difficult conversation when someone must concede, when someone must admit they are wrong. Mr. Duncan, that person is you!

  11. Failure is profitable. Fabricating failure to boost the economy is deplorable. You are sacrificing a generation of our nation’s most precious resource. Please examine your conscience, take stock of your abilities/shortcomings, and call it a day. Your skills and abilities are not suited to your post.

  12. The standards are good BUT the teachers are not prepared to teach them!!! They need resources other than the modules. The modules are way too difficult for most students and they have many mistakes!! There are no textbooks and no workbooks that are aligned with the NEW YORK STATE COMMON CORE ! Districts do not have the money to purchase new resources!! There has to be differentiated instruction. Not every child can learn at the same pace. Please understand that this curriculum was rolled out way too fast and NYSED can not expect every child will be career and college ready at the same time. Some students will never be college bound. I just don’t understand how the people that work for NYSED got a job. Do they have the qualifications???? Have they worked with 2nd graders..6th graders…8th graders…???

  13. Im a white suburban mom, and I don’t appreciate your suggesting that we blindly think our “little darlings” are “all that.” I notice you’re white, and probably have or will have a nice suburban home somewhere. But you’re somehow a cut above the rest of us, and, of course, so much smarter. You really believe that.

    I’ll get Alzheimer’s before I forget what you think of us. And by the way, Common Core is awful.

    • Well said, Alana. See, the rabid left really doesn’t like the idea of ‘white suburban moms’ – you know, people who are educated, people who have high expectations, people who have things. It can’t stand that idea. It lives and longs for a helot class of peasants, people they can proletarianize, the way Lenin proletarianized Russia’s low-information peasants. Anyone who refuses to submit to Common Core and all its ugly state ideological indoctrination and assorted junk-thought truisms, none of which correspond to standard American values and expectations, must be put down, expropriated, ridiculed, abused, and insulted. That’s the real root of Arne Duncan’s insulting remarks and miserable failure to apologize. What he offered here is meant to make you think he apologized. But being a leftist, he doesn’t apologize – not a single leftist ever has in matters of leftwing indoctrination and all the crimes against humanity that come of it.

      • Oh for cripes sake. Arne is about as far from the “rabid left” as Marx is from Adam Smith. Arne is a corporatist – closer to your end of the spectrum. Puh-leaze.

      • Monica, what makes you think white suburban moms aren’t progressives? Why shouldn’t I stoop to name calling and prejudice and dismiss you as “rabid right winger”?
        Drop the war and divisiveness. Join the parents whose eyes, ears, and hearts are open, who can transcend name calling and simplistic notions and really delve into the problems with CC.

      • Psst – some of the “rabid Left” are also anti-Common Core. I lean so far left sometimes it’s a wonder I don’t fall over, but that doesn’t mean that the label defines my views on education. Can we quit with the name-calling?

    • Secretary Duncan does live in a nice (exclusive) suburban area and casually mentioned in the same commentary referenced in this blog post that his children attend (a nice, exclusive) “public” school–but it’s in Virginia which is one of only a couple of states that DID NOT adopt the Common Core… Just sayin’

  14. First of all, please stop using the phrase “state led” because we all know that is not accurate. Money was dangled to accept this vague set of standards. The low scores on the test were due to the fact that there was inadequate time and little preview so students could be prepared for the (innappropriate) test. It was not a “reality check”! This whole situation is unnecessary because schools were already preparing students for the future…with options! Other countries don’t include all students in their statistics as we do. Our students, teachers, and parents were working very hard to have our kids progress at their level and interest before this whole situation erupted!

  15. FOOT — MEET MOUTH.

    I have an extremely hard time listening to one piece of rhetoric that comes from your mouth, Secy Duncan. You keep asserting that Common Core is a “state-led” mandate. If that is so, how are you so intricately involved in it? You are Federal employee and as such, should be staying out of our state’s business. Especially, my children’s business! You don’t seem to know that children learn at different rates, by different means. What works for one may not work for others. You would like our children to be your good little listeners and do exactly as you tell them. That’s not going to happen. Secy Duncan, you have succeeded in something else — you have succeeded in getting many parents across this great nation to stand up and get involved as they haven’t done so in the past. And for that — and ONLY that — I thank you.

  16. You said exactly what you meant to say and you’re only sorry it caused us white suburban moms to bring your ignorance into the spotlight. Testing, testing and re-testing is not the answer unless you are planning to also collect and sell major amounts on data from the students at the same time. Then of course the more computerized testing, surveys and worksheets the better. The money trail is too far reaching and our children are the pawns in a grand scam!

  17. When will people ever understand that one-size-fits all top-down centralized management DOESN’T WORK.

    The definition of intelligence is the ability to learn.
    Apparently there is little of it in the Dept of Education.

  18. Oh, just one more thing for now:

    Resign, Mr. Duncan. Today.

    As in “immediately if not sooner”

    Your policies are abysmal. And deliberately designed to reduce public confidence in our schools. They’re absolutely corrupt, and based on nothing but an ideologically – driven agenda to benefit particular companies at the expense of our children and their families.

    So resign. Right now. What little credibility you once had is now gone forever.

    Please go away. Now. And leave our children alone.

  19. MR. DUNCAN:

    I WILL WRITE YOU AGAIN, IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS, BECAUSE AFTER YOUR MENDACIOUS AND VICIOUS WORDS OF LAST WEEK, FOLLOWED BY THIS ARROGANT AND DELIBERATELY DECEPTIVE BLOG POST…MY BLOOD IS ABOUT TO BOIL.

    MY MOM—SPEAKING OF WHITE MOTHERS FROM SUBURBIA WHO COULD NEVER DO ENOUGH ON BEHALF OF HER CHILDREN’S EDUCATION—TAUGHT MY SIBLINGS AND ME THAT IT’S BEST TO FIRST CALM DOWN, TAKE A WALK OR A BATH, RELAX AND BREATHE DEEPLY FOR A FEW MINUTES BEFORE RESPONDING TO A PERSON WHO HAS JUST ATTACKED YOU OR YOUR FAMILY.

    WITH MOM’S SAGE ADVICE IN MIND, I’M GOING TO DISCECT YOUR OUTRAGEOUS “CLARIFICATION” YOU’VE WRITTEN ABOVE.

    FAR FROM AN APOLOGY, IT ACTUALLY IS MORE OFFENSIVE THAN YOUR ORIGINAL COMMENTS.

    SO, YOU’LL RECEIVE THE FULL DECONSTRUCTION OF THIS SLEAZY AND MANIPULATIVE POST VERY SOON.

    I DON’T MEAN TO BE OFFENSIVE, MR. DUNCAN, NOR DO I INTEND TO ATTACK YOU PERSONALLY.

    BUT AS A PARENT OF AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT, A CITIZEN AND A TAXPAYER, I FIND YOUR POLICIES TO BE OBTUSE, MANIPULATIVE, DECEPTIVE AND DESTRUCTIVE OF THE VERY IDEA OF PUBLIC EDUCATION.

    AND YOUR ATTEMPT TO FURTHER MISLEAD AND DISTORT IS A FURTHER OUTRAGE.

    AS I SAID, YOU’LL BE HEARING BACK FROM ME SOON.

    SINCERELY,
    MR. JAMES C

  20. The high standards I want every child in every classroom to participate in have little to do with flawed, developmentally inappropriate high-stakes testing. The high standards I want my tax dollars to support for every child, in every classroom are a richly well-rounded curricula including visual and performing arts, sports, science, classic lit, trades, foreign languages taught by dedicated teachers with small class sizes, same as you want for your children.

  21. I am wondering why there were no educators or Child psychologist on the commitee for Common core. I personally am in this field and not one colleague thinks this is the best for our children. The complex cognitive thinking process that common core “tries” to teach is not developed in our children until adulthood, ( around 18-22) so therefore this will be detrimental to our young people.

    This article sums up the irrational of common core
    http://theindignantteacher.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/the-most-disturbing-post-yet/

  22. “Research demonstrates that as a country, every demographic group has room for improvement”……. Oh my, now that truly is a revelation! Wondering how many millions the federal govt. spent on that research, only to end up with an inane, PC talking point?

  23. It seems clear that this conversation should also include an examination of the funds spent on testing and the funds removed from the classroom needs to pay for this testing.
    I have heard nothing from your office about why this is worth it.
    The money spent on lobbying is also a factor, it has increased by a huge amount, does this have anything to do with the huge change in educational policy that favors for profit testing companies?
    I have been asking these questions as a parent. I appreciate that you of all the leaders in education are the only one I know of with kids in public school and hope you will include a dialogue about the fiscal implications of this in the conversation. Its very important to middle class families like mine.
    Thanks.

  24. So, apparently, my disgust at your use of the phrase “white suburban moms” was a “focus on controversial-sounding soundbites, instead of the complex policy debates that underlie them”. Boy, call me stupid. Next time I’ll just leave everything to geniuses like you.

  25. Common Core is the Obamacare of education. Something being jammed down the throats of the populace by those ivory tower elitists who always know better than we do about everything.
    Healthcare is too big and complex for the elitist know-it-alls in DC who have never worked a real job in real life, and have failed to get input from those who actually do have real life experience but education is an even bigger sector and just as complex. Judging by all of your ignorant comments Mr. Duncan you have the elitist know-it-all prerequisite attitude of a government bureaucrat but it is all too evident you don’t have enough real life experience to know when to shut up.
    You educrats have made a shambles of public education and Common Core is just the latest roll out in your Potemkin shell game to divert attention from your failures.
    Please just resign.

  26. Others here are doing a fine job of pointing out how mendacious and disingenuous you are, Mr. Duncan, so I will only point out, you know you can’t standardize and individualize at the same time, right? What’s become obvious is that you want individualization for your children and your friends’ children. For other people’s children, you want standardization, which is far more profitable, right?

    • I find it suspicious that your children, Mr. Duncan, attend school in one of the only states that has not adopted Common Core. President Obama’s children and Joe Biden’s grandchildren attend a private school that will not be adopting Common Core either. Why is that?

  27. Children exist in a state of growth. Testing, comparisons, and classification lead to notions of what is “normal” and acceptable. Testing diminishes students’ capacity to reach their own individual potential while defining them in to the world of higher education and the world of work. Without quality standards in place, these tests appear to be no more than a political ploy to shore up the structures of inequity we see in public schools through out the U.S,..

    Let’s talk about inequity. Fairness is treating people differently so they can end up differently, these ends being determined by the students themselves. Fairness consists of providing different resources so that different people can achieve their own ends through their own appropriate means.

    Quality standards measure potential realized. Quality of life is not the same thing as standard of living. Standards are conservative and one-dimensional, devoted to order and security. Standardized testing measures what the person with the power to pay for the test says it measures. When you consent to standardized testing you agree to the conditions of the test. Your score becomes your story.

  28. As a white suburban mom whose son did fine on the assessments, I will say that it is not the soundbite, but the underlying dismissal of parents’ concerns, that is alarming here. No one is opposing high standards. We are opposing the notion that the only measure of ability is through standardized testing. If my children can have good careers doing nothing but taking standardized tests, then the current focus is right on. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Our future job market will demand that they also develop creativity, imagination, a true love of learning, motivation, curiosity, drive and a sense of purpose. Our current focus on standardized testing does its best to kill these things in children. I am hopeful that my child will be a success not because of the emphasis on testing, but in spite of it.

  29. You need to step aside as you have shown a contempt for the Americans you serve. You are not an educator. You are a bulldozer.

    I am a Democrat and I support the Common Core. The suburban schools also have to deal with the ill advised testing, aka. money making machine, for Pearson. Suburban schools are less able to be bulldozed and have more resources to stand up to you. You don’t like that. You like to bulldoze. You should be fired.

  30. Are you meaning to apologize Mr. Duncan? This wasn’t a great one.

    The middle and upper class (within mostly suburban schools) in the U.S. rank high among other countries the world on PISA and TIMSS – surely you know this. They line our elite colleges and universities.

    Our suburban schools are the best in the world. Period.

    As the Federal Secretary of Education, aren’t you supposed to know this? Maybe you are relying on some strange research from DFER, or some other misguided group, to justify your actions.

    I think it is too late for that – too many of us know what’s going on.

  31. “Clumsy??” “CLUMSY?!?” Who are you trying to kid with that? In the moment that you spoke those words, you MEANT them. And, I believe, you still MEAN them. You have yet to truly apologize for the sexist and racist comment you made, and instead have apologized for “clumsy” speech. Your comment has not distracted from the real discussion. Unfortunately for you, your comment has only served to draw even more attention to the Common Core, and how incredibly harmful it is to our children. And THAT is the ONLY reason you regret your words. Parents, grandparents, and teachers in all communities across this country were already angry about the federal government’s illegal power grab over education that is Common Core; but your defensive, ignorant, and hostile comment has only served to fire up the grassroots movement opposing this mess.

  32. Yes, we need high standards. But, implementing them correctly should be done with high standards as well. If we are going to say goodbye to many teachers who serviced the education system their entire careers, let’s do it with dignity and not rancor and abuse. Would we treat lawyers or nurses the way we are treating teachers?

    Also, why evaluate teachers on material they never taught? It’s absurd. Why not let teachers fully participate in their evaluations, which most employees in business do. Here is a list of questions that teachers can answer in their yearly evaluation: What does a teacher self-evaluation look like? (We did them in corporations.) 1. What students did you impact this year? 2. How did you impact them? 3. What were some of your successes in the classroom? 4. What were some of your successes outside of the classroom? 5. What were some problems you had this year? 6. What were some steps you took to resolve them? 7. What are some ideas you have for professional growth next year? ETC

    Have teachers sit down with their principal and then have the principal work with their team to help improve and appreciate teachers. The profession expects no less.

  33. Arne, please admit you don’t have any expertise in education and resign. Your policies are are only providing public handouts to corporations.

  34. The truth, really Arne? You can’t handle the truth. You are clueless. Absolutely out of touch with reality. Send your talking points back to Bill and Eli. It’s over. Resign now.

  35. “particularly as other countries are rapidly passing us by in preparing their students for today and tomorrow’s economy.”

    And you think Common Core is what’s going to fix all of this? Sadly you are digging yourself deeper and deeper and becoming one of the worst Sec of Ed ever. What a mistake I made voting for your boss.

  36. Secretary Duncan,

    As a white, suburban dad, I can assure you that your comments were not only offensive, but flat out wrong. First off, your suggestion that the opposition to the Common Core reform is only because parents are upset at realizing their children aren’t as “brilliant” as they thought shows one of two things; you either don’t understand the concerns of the American parent, or you have such tunnel vision on pushing your reform through that you just plain aren’t listening to the people that you serve.

    As I mentioned, I am a Dad who is just as vehemently opposed to the Common Core reform as any “suburban mom” that you so callously dismissed. On a nightly basis, I sit with my children and watch as they are tasked with performing more “rigorous” schoolwork that is well beyond the developmental ability for children their age. I also sit side by side with them on a daily basis and take note of the vast numbers of poorly worded questions, omitted information, and flat out errors that are included in the materials that New York State is providing to support their reform roll out. I also have sat by and watched as my daughter’s math tutor (a woman who teaches math on the college level and has a master’s degree in mathematics) has had to sit with a pencil and paper and spend 20 minutes working on a problem that was given to a 7th grader. Is that the “rigor” that you are aiming for, Mr. Duncan? Have we become so blinded by our supposed lack of competitiveness in the world that we are willing to destroy the self esteem of twelve year olds? For you see Mr. Duncan, for all of the data and statistics that you supposedly have to justify this reform, what you seem to be missing is the burden it is placing on American children. You can sit in all the hearings and sessions that you want that tell you we need reform, but I’d like you to come sit at my kitchen table just once and watch a 12 year old boy cry and call himself “stupid” because he can’t figure out a problem that is difficult for a college professor! For as much as you may not want to admit it, that is the real impact of your reform standards. You aren’t making American children more prepared to compete globally, you are delivering a collective punch to their self esteem.

    One last point I would like to make to you is in regard to your comments about why their is so much opposition to the Common Core among parents. Contrary to your beliefs, I am keenly aware of my children’s strengths and weaknesses. I don’t believe they are “brilliant” and honestly never have. What they are are normal, hard working kids that are being bullied by a system that was dropped on them with no preparation, and they are being made to pay the price for the poor planning and execution of the government that is supposed to be looking out for them. I do not oppose the Common Core standards because they expose my children’s weaknesses. I oppose them because, as their Dad, it’s my job to protect them from bullies. Make no mistake Mr. Duncan, the Common Core standards are doing more harm to American children than any schoolyard bully ever has. Rather than blaming American parents for defending their children, maybe it’s time you start listening to them instead.

  37. Mr. Duncan,

    I am a teacher in an inner city district in NY. I have heard complaints about Common Core from all races. I consider your comment racist! You are a government official in charge of our education system. Your apology is not accepted. You said what you said. You can not take back your comment, just like your comment about Hurricane Katrina and the schools in New Orleans.
    My district received federal money so we took on the Common Core. A phrase we keep hearing is ” we are building the plane as we are flying it”. Would you ever fly on a plane that is being built? Our state education commissioner cancelled meetings after people questioned about the common core. I thought this was a free country with freedom of speech. But it seems our government officials just want us to take whatever is given to us without question.
    I read your bio. It is very impressive. That’s why I am so shocked at your comment. Perhaps you need to think about resigning your position.
    If the common core is the answer to all of our education issues then why are the government officials so upset when people question the appropriateness of testing, and curriculum?

  38. First the Common Core is not for ALL students. If you have a student with special needs that student will not be able to meet the NATIONAL (not State) Standards.
    Second Good Communication matters?? No one communicated about these standards!! No one voted them in. They were just thrown at us and the teachers. I don’t know what teachers you are talking about that Like the Common Core but they are age inappropriate, how can a first grader just learning how to read even know what the word “Compensation” mean in math?. This is not about making kids college and career ready this is about lining the pockets of businessmen,such Bill Gates, Pearson, Cuomo, just to name a few. Come to LI and ask the Superintendents and the school principles about the CCSS…This is Federal Government seeping into what should be state control education!!!
    And By the way I am a “white suburban Mom” who thinks you should be FIRED. Your statement was not “clumsy: it was outright racist!!!!

  39. Too little too late sir. Rigor is not the answer. Vigor is. Creativity and originality are the answers. The Common Core needs to go, and you need to resign before you destroy our education system any more than you already have.

  40. “In talking about the importance of communicating about higher learning standards . . .”

    That’s the problem sir, you didn’t think, you just blurted out your true racist feelings.

  41. Since the modern school aged high school graduate knows less and can compute less than any previous generation, I would suggest that you take you ridiculous set of standards and look backward to a time when an education meant something.

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