Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Who You Callin' A Barbarian?

Posted By on Wed, May 14, 2014 at 10:30 AM

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UPDATE: Huppenthal's "Barbarian at the gates" comment gets multiple derisive tweets from conservative Michelle Malkin ("So you think we're 'barbarians at the gate?' You ain't heard nothing yet, pal."). Hupp's primary opponent Diane Douglas chimed in with tweets of her own ("Yesterday my opponent called us 'barbarians' for wanting to #StopCommonCore in #AZ")

We've already established that Arizona Ed Supe John Huppenthal loves vouchers. Loves 'em. Records robocalls to parents telling them to flee public schools for private schools. Plans to give students more state money to go to private schools than they get when they go to public schools. Loves vouchers.

Hupp also loves Common Core. (Irony alert: Private schools don't have to use the Common Core standards Hupp loves, and their students don't have to take the state tests he says are essential to judge student progress in public schools.)

Hupp loves Common Core enough to call its right wing opponents “barbarians at the gate."

“I have put my career on the line to stave off the barbarians. I very likely could lose this election,” Huppenthal said. “I’m okay with that because I felt I did the right thing for this education system.”

So far as I can tell from the article, Hupp isn't calling folks like me barbarians, people on the progressive side of education who are concerned that the testing associated with Common Core will be even more damaging than our current high stakes tests connected with No Child Left Behind. I have no problem with individual school districts and states adopting the standards, which have had very little field testing, and modifying them as teachers and administrators see how they work. But that can't happen so long as the tests are a Damoclean Sword hanging over educators' heads, threatening them with staff firings and school closures. That's why I'm an opponent of Common Core in its current form.

The barbarians Hupp is referring to are the part of his base he and former Ed Supe Tom Horne riled up with their assaults on TUSD's Mexican American Studies. Will they desert him for his primary opponent Diane Douglas who is running against Common Core? We'll see. The people on the far right who have been yelling at Hupp during town meetings will find a friend in Douglas, and they tend to dominate Republican primaries. If Hupp survives the primary, will the anti-Common Core folks vote for him in the general? Democratic candidate David Garcia has a much more nuanced attitude toward Common Core, which could mean some Republicans will either switch their allegiance to Garcia or just leave the Ed Supe box blank.

AN "I FEEL IGNORED" NOTE: Gary Grado, the Capitol Times reporter who wrote the "barbarian" story, didn't acknowledge Common Core critics on the left. Here's how he described the battle.

Common Core, a set of math and English standards the state Board of Education adopted in 2010, has pitted Democrats and moderate Republicans against the more conservative wing of the GOP.

A bit more research by Grado would have revealed a vibrant and growing contingent fighting Common Core from the left. In fact, if he picked up a copy of yesterday's Star, he would have seen an op ed from the Washington Post complaining about us. I'm not hurt by being ignored. I'm bothered that Grado does his readers a disservice by creating the incorrect impression that Democrats are in agreement about Common Core and the only the far right is opposed.

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