How did a bipartisan set of education standards developed by the National Governors Association and state school superintendents get to be one of the most hotly contested issues in public life? A new report out today from the Southern Poverty Law Center – “Public Schools in the Crosshairs: Far-Right Propaganda and the Common Core State Standards” – takes a hard look at the extremists behind the right-wing effort to destroy the Common Core, which they’ve dubbed “Obamacore.”
Common Core is being implemented in 44 states and has widespread backing among Republicans, Democrats, educators and big business. Notwithstanding legitimate concerns and questions from many corners, there is a level of consensus around the standards that is virtually unheard of in contemporary politics. But extremists on the far right are fast at work dismantling it. And their ultimate goal is dismantling public education itself.
Common Core sets standards for literacy and math skills that all children in public school should achieve at every grade level – nothing more, nothing less. Contrary to the claims by right-wing pundits, the standards don’t mandate any particular texts or courses of study.
But to the far right, the standards are a Trojan horse intended to set the stage for mass indoctrination of America’s children and the destruction of traditional values. The goal, they say, is to separate children from their parents and communities, render them unable to think for themselves and put them on a path to dependency on big government for the rest of their lives.
The right-wing propagandists have created an alternate universe of lies and deceptions, and not for the first time. Obamacare had “death panels,” and now Obamacore has “government indoctrination camps” to turn children into “green serfs” who will serve the “New World Order.”
It may all sound crazy – and it is – but the anti-Common Core propaganda could have real political consequences. In late March, Indiana became the first state to pull out of Common Core. And roughly 100 bills have been introduced around the nation that would slow or reverse adoption of the standards.
It’s a crucial moment in the political debate over Common Core, and you can’t make sense of it without understanding the lies and distortions coming from the far right as well as their true goal – the dismantling of the public education system itself. Be sure to check out the full “Public Schools in the Crosshairs” report.