The Corner

Massachusetts’s Teachers’ Union Elects Anti-Common Core President

The Common Core standards and their implementation are suffering attacks all around America and from all sides — in red states and blue, and from the left and right. The Massachusetts Teachers Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union at 110,000 members, elected a new president on Saturday, and she’s opposed to Common Core (and high-stakes testing and the use of those tests to evaluate teacher quality).

The new MTA president, Barbara Madeloni, wants a three-year moratorium on testing, and has called for a vigorous campaign against the “corporate forces” behind Common Core and other standards and evaluation efforts. She’s hardly the only key union figure to hold these views: The New York State teachers’ union recently ousted its president for being too accommodating of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ed-reform agenda, including the use of Common Core–aligned tests to assess teachers, though she doesn’t seem to explicitly oppose the Common Core standards themselves.

The president of the largest national teachers’ union, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, still supports Common Core — but she’s expected to face a challenge on this issue when she runs for reelection.

The Common Core fight has made strange bedfellows — surely this is the first Massachusetts union election whose result the Home School Legal Defense Association has celebrated. There’s a certain appeal to some conservative Common Core opponents in people like Madeloni’s railing against “corporate forces” in education (to get a flavor, read Michelle Malkin’s writing on the moneyed interests behind production of standardized tests, textbooks, curricula, etc.). But it’s also important to remember that Madeloni and her allies also basically think that “corporate” influence extends to anything that weakens government control over public schools, including charter schools, which Madeloni virulently opposes.

Where does Common Core stand in Massachusetts right now? It’s implementing it, but somewhat slowly — the state board of education voted last year to take a couple extra years to compare Common Core–aligned tests with its existing standardized tests.

Massachusetts was on the vanguard of some of the thinking behind the Common Core, and teachers’ unions have all along opposed the kind of accountability that attends higher standards, more rigorous evaluation, and standardized testing. With Governor Bill Weld’s education-reform act of 1993, the state implemented higher standards and the comprehensive testing regime the state uses now, the MCAS. While the effort involved billions of dollars in new spending, it’s worked reasonably well for Massachusetts, which has seen its scores on NAEP, the standard national education assessment, rise faster than the nation as a whole. The original champions of the Bay State ed-reform movement, such as Weld, are now generally Common Core opponents, who argue that Massachusetts’s standards were perfectly good beforehand and that the next step in ed reform is encouraging more choice. Don’t expect Comrade Madeloni to join that cause — stopping Common Core might be a good idea, but the fundamental battle lines here haven’t changed.

Via Kathleen Porter-Magee, an excellent source to follow for Common Core news (and a even-handed, expert supporter of the standards, I’d say).

Patrick Brennan — Patrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

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