Monthly Archives: May 2014

Senator Conrad Appel’s Twist on Things

Conrad Appel

I recently read a statement from Senator Conrad Appel about his support of Common Core. Here is my response.

Twisting political history for his own personal viewpoint does not make it true. Stating we are stronger united than divided completely ignores the Tenth Amendment that makes education a state issue, and Common Core is a strongly-incentivized federal program. Some 45 states may have joined, but many desperately needed federal dollars due to the Great Recession that ignored state borders. Any state wanting to help their kids would have been foolish to turn down money in Race to the Top grants that forced states to adopt Common Core. When 45 states are using the same “base” to write curricula, that is essentially a national curriculum.

The only people responsible for inflicting further damage on Louisiana are the ones marred by intransigence and narcissism. All one needs is a mirror to know who that is.

How dare the senator claim that the people who spoke out are some fringe element sowing fear, a tactic always used to discredit the public’s legitimate concerns. Wasn’t it Arne Duncan who said that they were just unhappy Soccer moms who’ve discovered their kids weren’t perfect? I and many people who spoke out are no members of a “special interest group, political social climbers, or unions.” I am a teacher, plain and simple, not even a union member. I have no children of my own, so these students are the closest I’m going to get to parenthood. They mean the world to me, and I am appalled at the senator’s characterizations that anyone who disagrees with his rigid position is somehow putting personal ideologies ahead of the welfare of children. It is the senator who has pursued such a reckless endeavor by his intransigence. Those concerned parents and dedicated teachers that he has wantonly dismissed as unworthy are the very people he has failed to convince of the rightness of his position. Simply ignoring them will not make his position stronger.

I wish the senator would stop saying the standards were developed by the forty-five states? The states did not democratically pick the 29 individuals who wrote the English and math standards, 29 souls who were not teachers, had no experience writing standards, and were not experts in child psychology or learning behaviors. I will use his words and call that intellectually dishonest, and I will not pander to a process flawed from its inception.

When the senator says he will not alter his position, he has admitted that his mind is closed. That’s a dangerous place, especially as our world changes around him. As chairman of the Senate education committee, he has single-handedly strangled any bills that didn’t fit his definition of the perfect world. Such power should never be in one person’s hands.

On one point, I whole-heartedly agree with him: “Our Nation is hurting right now. We are the victim of an ideological sickness that is an anathema to most citizens.” He didn’t know how right he was: he just described Common Core. Any program conceived without a democratic process, developed by non-teachers to revamp the entire education process, and then blackmailed onto states through federal grants, that is indeed a sickness that needs curing. Right now, New York students are being demoralized by taking PARCC tests, by being told that 70% of them are failures, and that schools that don’t meet goals should be shuttered and replaced with privatized schools, run on a similar model that produced the Great Recession of 2008. Supporters have the nerve to call this progress.

The only people responsible for inflicting further damage on Louisiana are the ones marred by intransigence and narcissism. All one needs is a mirror to know who that is.


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