Astorino Blasts the Common Core: “Our Children Are Not Guinea Pigs!”

Should conservatives embrace the Common Core? As we’ve seen [check out ILYBYGTH coverage here, here, or here, for instance], conservative intellectuals have disagreed about the new standards. New York gubernatorial hopeful and staunch conservative Rob Astorino offered a stinging attack on the new standards last week. His analysis of the good and the bad might give us some insight into the ways conservatives view these new standards. Indeed, Astorino’s comments might offer insight into conservative attitudes about education as a whole.

Astorino is leading the conservative charge against sitting New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Astorino, a County executive from affluent Westchester County, just north of New York City, has pledged to take the Great State of New York in a more conservative direction. As part of that campaign, Astorino issued a blistering attack on the Common Core Standards.

Flanked not only by the US flag, the New York flag, and a copy of the US Constitution, but also by a few cheerful children’s drawings, Astorino blasted the CCSS as an “untested experiment” that would lead America in dangerous directions. Indeed, Astorino repeated the word “experiment” or “experimental” a total of four times in the four-minute announcement. He also repeated the phrase “Andrew Cuomo’s Common Core exam” four times. Clearly, Mr. Astorino hopes to label the CCSS as both experimental and part of Governor Cuomo’s program.

Most compelling, Astorino announced last week that his own children will be opting out of the exams. The Opt-Out movement has attracted support from all across the political and ideological spectrum.

For Astorino, opting out is the right choice for conservatives. Why? He offered a laundry list of problems with the standards and with the associated exams.

First, with common standards and exams, Astorino warned, local schools will become “centralized organs of the Federal government.”

Second, these exams and standards will raise property taxes “through the roof.”

Third, these exams are not tested, but are simply the misbegotten brainchildren of people such as Bill Gates. According to Astorino, the exams came from the same political greenhorns who cobbled together the disastrous “Obamacare.” Worst of all, Astorino asserts, these standards and exams represent just the latest effort by distant educational elites to exert their unwanted and poorly conceived influence over all the nation’s schools. As he put it, “We’re risking our children’s futures for a few scraps from Washington.”

As I argue in my upcoming book about conservatism and American education, the notion that a scheming group of educational usurpers has taken—or is taking—control of our nation’s schools has a long and potent history. Astorino appeals to this tradition by taking a firm stand on what he calls this “expensive, experimental, Federal curriculum.”

So what’s a conservative to do? According to presumptive GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, conservative parents should run for the hills.



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  1. He even got a dig in there on Obamacare.

    • Yep. More than a dig on O’care, though, I heard that as another piece of evidence that the Common Core was from the same devilish pit that belched out O’Care.

  2. Opponents of Common Core are also beginning to ‘sexualize’ the Common Core by linking it (erroneously) to the National Sexuality Education Standards. The NSES are not part of Common Core, and are completely voluntary for state education departments and local school districts (and individual schools, public or private) to use in whatever way helps them to strengthen their sexual health education curriculum. No state legislature has (or is ever likley to) vote to adopt the NSES as part of their state education code. However, conflating NSES and Common Core is a very effective way for Common Core opponents to win-over the uninformed. Here is an example of the misinformation campaign (scroll to the end of the piece for the slam-dunk):

  3. Just the fact that Mr Astorino is calling it “Cuomo’s” Common Core is a red flag. That tactic was used by the GOP in 2010, which used local political ads to suggest that the Democrat candidate in each of the precincts was “the one” who cast the deciding vote for Obamacare.

    Our educational standing in the world has dropped. I don’t hear now, nor have I heard in the past, any specific ideas from the GOP about real solutions to this sobering fact. This is also true of the need for health care reform. After Hillarycare was defeated, the GOP had a ready made platform to introduce its own ideas about how to fix the broken health care system. Instead, the GOP patted themselves on their collective backs and walked away. It was only after the passage of Obamacare that any of them floated any ideas.

    I don’t think it is a bad thing to identify and address uniform standards for the nation. We compete in a global economy, and, identifying areas in which our nation must be well educated in order to compete well, is necessary. Will CC be the solution? We don’t know for sure. But it is a step in the right direction. As always, IMHO.


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