Duncan Defends Common Core


Appearing on CBS This Morning (6/17, 8:31 a.m. EDT), Education Secretary Arne Duncan discussed the origins of and controversy surrounding the Common Core Standards. Duncan addressed the difference between the standards and the curricula used to teach them, and explains the impetus for strong standards. Asked about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s opposition to the standards, Duncan said, “Governor Jindal was a passionate supporter before he was against it, so this situation is about politics, not education. And frankly, that’s part of the problem. Republican, Democrat, ideology, we need to put that to the side. We need to help all of our children be successful.”

        Duncan, Jindal Exchange Criticism Over Common Core. Coverage in Louisiana focuses on Duncan’s comments about Jindal. The New Orleans Times-Picayune (6/18) reports on Duncan’s above quote, and notes that Jindal “helped bring” the Common Core to Louisiana in 2010, but “joined a nationwide backlash” after they were implemented. Meanwhile, “the Legislature and state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education have maintained their course.” The paper notes that Duncan “called upon both sides of the aisle to take politics out of the Common Core debate,” while Jindal “now equates Common Core with Soviet central planning.”

        The AP (6/17) also reports on Duncan’s appearance and his statement that “Jindal’s recent opposition to the Common Core education standards is politically-driven.” The AP notes that Jindal “has said he intends to take executive action to remove the Common Core from Louisiana classrooms,” and reports that his spokesperson “said Duncan’s comments prove the Common Core is being pushed by the Obama administration as ‘a federal takeover’ of education.”

        In a subsequent article, the New Orleans Times-Picayune (6/18) reports that Jindal “fired back” at Duncan Tuesday afternoon, “again denouncing the Common Core academic standards as a federal takeover of public education.” The article quotes Jindal saying, “We will not be bullied by the federal government. The proponents of Common Core claim it is not a federal takeover, but Secretary Duncan’s comments and actions prove otherwise. He has already threatened Oklahoma with a loss of funding, and we may be next.”

        Duncan Answers Alabama Teacher’s Common Core Question. Meanwhile, Alabama Live (6/18) reports that Huntsville, Alabama middle school teacher Lynette Alexander asked Duncan during his appearance on CBS This Morning via Skype how ED “would ensure that school districts’ standards-based curriculum would serve as an ‘equalizer’ to all students, particularly the disadvantaged.” The article quotes Duncan saying, “First of all, we can’t touch curriculum at our levels. Again, that is done at the local level. But encouraging states to have high standards, we think, is the right thing to do. And we know, when standards get dummied down, it’s not the elite kids, it’s not the advantaged kids, who get hit. It’s the more disadvantaged kids that always get hurt when things get reduced. And so fighting against that, driving an agenda around both equity and excellence, we think is hugely important.”

        WHNT-TV Huntsville, AL (6/17) also covers Alexander’s “rare opportunity to pose a question to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.”