Arne Duncan's been busy walking back his statement from Friday about his fascination with white suburban moms and their hesitance to embrace Common Core. In his opinion, their resistance stems from the fact that it might make their kids seem less brilliant and that's scary. We suspect of all the things moms find scary, their child's brilliance and its relation to Common Core is not one of them.
You can read reactions to his statement here, here, here, here, and here. It seems people, and not just white suburban moms, are mad.
Duncan's apology is wrapped in the guise of high standards for everyone, everywhere. So take that suburbia! Or is it the inner city! We're not sure. But, he wants everyone to sit down and have a difficult conversation about:
- Improvement for everyone!
- Bringing about individual brilliance!
- The educational reality we've been hiding (we've always assumed the educational reality we've been hiding is poverty, but Duncan thinks it's a lack of high standards)
The solution to all of this is, of course, Common Core! Since Duncan is its biggest fan, we thought we'd evaluate his initial statement and subsequent apology according to the standards he's advocating for.
We made the mistake and started with the 12th grade standards for Literacy, and then began crossing out the attributes Duncan couldn't demonstrate:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1a Come to discussions
prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.(Points for showing up for speech!)
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1b Work with peers
to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.(Duncan does work effectively with education profiteers)
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1c Propel conversations
by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.(He sure has generated some conversations!)
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1d Respond
thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task.(He did "apologize.")
Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.(Oops! Reteach!)
His apology indicates he may be ready to attempt 3rd grade standards (no offense to 3rd graders):
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.1a Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion. (Duncan: "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.")
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.1b Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion). (Duncan: "A few days ago, in a discussion with state education chiefs, I used some clumsy phrasing that I regret.")
Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.(While he still needs improvement in this area, we're confident he can improve with practice!)
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.1d Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion. (Duncan: "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.")
Readers: if you know of a good 3rd classroom for this student, please let us know, he'd be an ace on the basketball team!