I might be the only conservative who doesn’t have a strong opinion on Common Core, simply because I don’t know enough about it to be confident in my judgment. NCLB made me generally suspicious of standardization, but I’ve also seen some crazy stuff claimed by anti-Common Core people. So I just don’t know. Enlighten me.
Ryan Booth, a Louisiana Republican, former public school teacher, and owner of Mathnasium, a private math instruction business (in fact, I’m writing this post from one of them now; my children get their math instruction here), has a piece up today ripping into Common Core conspiracy theorists, and, more broadly, the way conspiracy nuts are hurting conservatism. Excerpts:
Conspiracy theory is a self-justifying epistemology, consigning those who don’t agree with its premises or conclusions as either dupes or closet conspirators. In this way, conspiracy theory sets its adherents up to proceed into the political arena with only the dimmest idea of what makes people act in the ways that they do.
Contrary to the imagination of conservative conspiracy theorists, all the major accomplishments made by progressives in the last 100 years have come from convincing the public that their ideas were better than ours. The New Deal, the Great Society, even Obama’s stimulus spending – the Left accomplished all of these things not behind closed doors, but out in the open. Conspiracy theory thus reflects a losing mindset.
Like the sports fan who blames the referees for every loss, conspiracy theory succors the hurt feelings of conservatives who simply can’t accept that we have failed to persuade the electorate to vote for us.
Which brings us to the Tea Party. It arose admirably in opposition to the big government policies of the Obama administration, but it is now descending into outright conspiratorial crankiness. Facebook friends fill my feed with breathless screeds about things like billions of rounds of ammunition purchased by the Department of Homeland Security or the “fact” that President Obama is a secret Muslim — all of which serves absolutely no purpose and is unnerving to people whose knowledge, expertise, and just plain common sense teaches them otherwise.
This is personal to me. As a professional educator – I own and manage a math tutorial company – it drives me nuts to see my fellow conservatives fall into the fever swamp over the Common Core State Standards for English and math. In a May article on this website, I explained exactly why Common Core is a conservative idea, and why liberals hate it. To date, no one has challenged the central assertions of that piece. But conspiracy buffs apparently want to believe that Common Core is a liberal plot, so the hysteria has spread unabated.
Read the whole thing to see Booth’s case against anti-CC conspiracies. I invite your commentary on his essay and on Common Core — but please, no conspiracy theorizing. Of course, They told me to say that…