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Monday, April 27, 2015

Mercedes Schneider: Lily Garcia and Randi Weingarten, Common Core Afficiandos

Lily Garcia and Randi Weingarten

Lily Eskelsen Garcia

Randi, Lily, and Their Common Core Fidelity
Mercedes Schneider, April 27, 2015

I was in Chicago this past weekend for the second annual conference of the Network for Public Education (NPE).

(A number of videos of conference sessions will be available here. In the first video, the session to which I refer in this post is around 2:10:00.)

One of the sessions I attended was the Sunday morning keynote (April 26, 2015) in which education historian and NPE founding president Diane Ravitch interviewed both National Education Association (NEA) president Lily Eskelsen Garcia and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten.

Both Garcia and Weingarten support the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which seems to be (now) chiefly embraced by Democrats (see here, and here, and here)… and by Republican Jeb Bush.

During the Sunday NPE interview, Ravitch asked both Garcia and Weingarten to state their positions on CCSS.

Weingarten went first. She stated that she did not support a “federal” CCSS.

Word games.

As it stands, only two days after her statement above, on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, Weingarten is the opening speaker for the very-pro-CCSS Center for American Progress (CAP) “revealing” report entitled, “How Teachers Are Leading the Way to Successful Common Core Implementation.”

The idea of CCSS’ merely suffering from “poor implementation” is an idea near to Weingarten’s heart for years now. So, if America could just experience a handful of teachers “successfully implementing” CCSS, that would prove that CCSS homogenization of American education is the way to go.

CAP president Carmel Martin will also be participating in this CCSS implementation yard sale, even though in September 2014, she defended CCSS with astounding cluelessness in this Intelligence Squared debate in New York City.

Indeed, this is not the first Martin-Weingarten summit. The two came together to negotiate a position on “testing and accountability” in the initial Senate-proposed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) in January 2015. An outcome of this January 2015 meeting is the Weingarten shuffle to support the annual testing she previously opposed.

In the NPE event moderated by Ravitch, Weingarten was quick to point out her years ago pressing for a moratorium around CCSS testing. However, a moratorium is only a delay. Thus, from Weingarten, expect continued CCSS and CCSS-assessment support couched in politically-lubricated language.

And there is plenty of CCSS lube available for Garcia, as well.

Sure, Garcia has taken a stronger stance against the annual testing than has Weingarten, but in her response to Ravitch’s question about her position on CCSS, Garcia clearly chose to answer the unasked question, “What are some of your favorite CCSS standards, Lily?”

Yep. Garcia offered the NPE audience a soft-sell, Helen Steiner Rice moment regarding a few “favorite” standards, emphasizing that these CCSS faves could not be adequately assessed using bubble tests. So, since she found three standards that she “favors,” Garcia hopes to cement in the NPE audience psyche the idea that all of the K12 CCSS math and ELA standards are fine, and that they are fine as a set for all classrooms nationwide.

Garcia offered no word on her least-liked CCSS standards. To do so would have been to criticize the CCSS that she clearly supports in its entirety. Garcia’s allowing any semblance of truly critical thought to enter her CCSS sell would have killed the figurative, tender-moment music and sent Helen Steiner Rice packing.

And so, there we have it in brief, my readers.

Two union leaders; one beloved CCSS.

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