The National Education Association, the largest teachers union in the country, made its initial public break with Common Core yesterday.
Common Core has too much backing from the big money men and women funding the left to allow the NEA President to trash it the way that many local teachers have, so instead the union is undermining it the way that it does any reform effort. The course correction being called for locally and nationally is about shifting the balance of educational power. And it's always about power for the left.
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran its story discussing a statewide backlash against Common Core that had even reached the office of Governor Cuomo. It headlined the story, "Common Core Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left."
Like so much else in the New York Times, the headline is misleading. Common Core has always had its critics on the left, even if the New York Times did its best to ignore them. Unlike conservative critics of Common Core who are upset at its content, for liberal critics this is just another shot in the left's educational civil war.
The civil war encompasses debates over testing and charter schools. On one side are technocratic progressives backed by Silicon Valley; a small army of successful men and women turned amateur experimenters trying to tinker with schools in their free time through wealthy foundations determined to centralize and nationalize the educational system. On the other side is the traditional inertia of teachers unions still fighting for a school system that gives teachers everything and asks for nothing in return.
On one side is Bill Gates. On the other side is a fifth grade teacher with seniority looking forward to retirement.
But when it comes to Common Core, the unions aren't wrong. Every educational reform is a band aid meant to fix the last reform. Now Common Core already needs fixing.
The educational reforms have only accomplished one thing and that is to drastically accelerate the growth of an overpaid administrative bureaucracy that is bleeding money out of education at every level from elementary school to college.
Teachers unions still remain some of the most reliable donors to the Democratic Party. The NEA was the fourth largest national donor in the last fifteen years with a 61% Democratic tilt. The American Federation of Teachers was in twelfth place with an 89% Democratic tilt. But these days, some teachers unions feel abandoned by a Democratic Party that is treating them like an obstacle to its technocratic progressive program.
Some Republicans, including candidates associated with the Tea Party, have even been courted by teachers unions looking for options.
“The notion that just because you’re a Democrat you can take the teachers’ unions for granted has changed," Jim Reed, of the Illinois Education Association, warned.
Common Core is just another shot in the left's educational civil war and it's a war that conservatives should take advantage of.