Some critics of the Common Core State Standards Initiative are "white, suburban moms" who are upset at their children's test scores and opposed to progress, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. Meanwhile, Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, argued that the Common Core rollout was worse than the launch of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare."
"It's fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn't quite as good as they thought they were, and that's pretty scary. You've bet your house and where you live and everything on, 'My child's going to be prepared.' That can be a punch in the gut," Duncan said Friday to a group of state school superintendents.
When Politico asked for clarification of those remarks about two hours later, Duncan answered that he "didn't say it perfectly," but then accused Common Core critics of being opposed to high standards for education (a false argument often used by Common Core supporters).
"Do we want more for our kids, or do we want less? Do we want higher standards or not?" he said.
The reaction among those opposed to the Common Core has been swift.
Michelle Malkin, a conservative author and Asian-American, wrote a Monday blog post called "A brown-skinned suburban mom responds to Common Core bigot Arne Duncan." A photo of Duncan with the word "BIGOT" accompanies the post.
"As a brown-skinned suburban mom opposed to Common Core," she wrote, "I can tell you I've personally met moms and dads of ALL races, of ALL backgrounds, and from ALL parts of the country, who have sacrificed to get their kids into the best schools possible. They are outraged that dumbed-down, untested federal 'standards' pose an existential threat to their excellent educational arrangements – be they public, private, religious, or homeschooling."
In a Monday article for The Huffington Post, public school teacher Mercedes Schneider, Ph.D., wrote: "Aside from the obvious foolishness of Duncan's singling out 'White suburban mothers' and publicly insulting both them and the intelligence levels of their children, Duncan has actually made a bigger blunder: He has just undermined the entire foundation of education reform: Lack of educational achievement is never the child's fault. The child has limitless potential. If children aren't 'college and career ready,' it's the teachers. It's the schools. Never the kids."
On Sunday, a Facebook group was created called Moms Against Duncan (MAD), which, at the time of publication, already has over 1,500 members.
Opposition to Common Core, like support for Common Core, has been diverse. Both liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, can be found on both sides of the issue.
Earlier this month, Weingarten, who has been a supporter of Common Core, complained that the Common Core implementation has been worse than the rollout of the "Obamacare" website.
"You think the Obamacare implementation is bad? The implementation of the Common Core is far worse," she said.