Mr. Alter defended his friend Leslie Larson, even taking the time to give us all a lesson on what “conflict of interests” means. True, neither Larson nor her husband Donald Katz financially benefitted from the specific workshop purchase in question, but surely Mr. Alter can understand we might see the creeping influence of initiatives from charter chain Uncommon Schools, or ones like them, as suspicious and unseemly, and how we’d like to see Ms. Larson recuse herself from similar decisions in the future.
Alter called the Common Core a “fait accompli,” saying, “The train has left the station.” Surely Mr. Alter knows many historical examples when people sought short-term reform while still fighting for long-term transformation. Surely he doesn’t think we can’t multi-task – deal with the Common Core as best we can now while also fighting for its eventual eradication.
Alter lauded national standards like the Common Core, noting the struggles of America’s schools vis a vis other countries, and alluding to attendant global economic competition. A panelist pointed out that, when data is adjusted for poverty, America’s students perform as well or better than any other country’s. Additionally, the market-based competition paradigm Mr. Alter assumes is neither inevitable nor desirable. Shaping schools based on the needs of globalized capitalism is failing before we begin.
Alter noted that the National Education Association (NEA) endorses the Common Core. Surely Mr. Alter knows rank-and-file workers often disagree with their union’s leadership, and that many educators across the country have denounced the Common Core and NEA’s embrace of it.
Finally, and most speciously and condescendingly, Alter noted that Tea Party types oppose the Common Core, therefore we shouldn’t oppose it, lest we find ourselves in league with them. Surely he knows folks on the left and far right sometimes find common enemies (e.g. marijuana prohibition, interventionist foreign policy). Surely he knows we on the left oppose the Common Core for reasons vastly different from the Tea Party’s and that we propose vastly different alternatives. Surely Mr. Alter knows we can share a target with the Tea Party but not their ethos.
Perhaps Mr. Alter, whose kids attend Newark Academy, on whose website there is zero mention of the Common Core and standardized tests, believed he could mislead us regular folks; or perhaps he knows far less than a best-selling author and MSNBC contributor should.