Too often, conservatives engaging in critical analysis of a federal policy presenting smart, salient critiques to hopefully fair-minded opponents, find themselves thrown into that category of the "lunatic fringe." Case in point, the straw-man bonfire Family Research Council endured in the Washington Post recently.
The Post's "Answer Sheet" took a Family Research Council fundraising letter regarding "Common Core" (in which I am named) to the level of circus fare. The author, Valerie Strauss, made reference to the derisive Twitter hashtag, "ThanksCommonCore," equating the rhetoric in the letter with "garbage."
It appears as if Ms. Strauss was at a loss for what to write about, and so chose to mock a fundraising letter directed toward FRC's constituency, utterly ignoring what she calls the "legitimate criticism" we've offered to the CCSS Initiative in the past (I would direct her to watch our recent webcast forum, or read some of my white papers, or op-eds at TownHall.com or DailyCaller.com). Rather than moving the ball, she decided to foul another player. On her own team.
What Ms. Strauss also fails to recognize is that language employed by FRC in its letter to constituents about CCSS does not change the fact that the components of CCSS themselves are still problematic.
Everyone from the National Education Association to the Socialist Worker to the Heritage Foundation to the American Enterprise Institute have recognized the Standards as a failed experiment in test-heavy, sub-par, bureaucratic academics.
I set wholly aside the avowed directive of the CCSS (to, among other things, "broaden worldviews"). I'll leave out of this discussion the fact that the Core's development was steeped in secrecy, or that's its architect, David Coleman, is now replacing the AP U.S. History Exam with a creation that shifts the landscape of American history "sharply to the left." It is clear that the Common Core engineers had a worldview, and one they didn't want open to discussion, which to my mind is the epitome of closed minded "nonsense."
But from whence Common Core's divergent critics draw our conclusions should not matter if we are all energized to the same end: its ultimate and swift repeal.
Tragically, Ms. Strauss quotes the "report" of the Southern Poverty Law Center, "Public Schools in the Crosshairs: Far-Right Propaganda and the Common Core State Standards." That self-same "report" which lacks a single footnote or citation, that "report" which is as much propaganda itself as that which it claims to expose, that "report" which notes that "this far-right campaign is really a proxy for a broader assault on public education itself."
As a citizen of blue-state Maryland who sends three children to public school, I speak for both myself and my organization in saying I have no interest in assaulting public education; only in making it better. I think Ms. Strauss and I agree -- perhaps for different reasons -- that the Common Core Standards are not the way to do so.
If we both see the initiative as riddled with problems, what good is served in criticizing the Family Research Council, aside from ingratiating Ms. Strauss to the left? Particularly in using the left's own arguments against us? It is no secret that the Southern Poverty Law Center is no friend of the Family Research Council.
But, Ms. Strauss. I thought we were friends.