This is not the first time a defender of the testing status quo has tried to beat back opposition by blaming hysterical mothers. The top business lobbyist in Texas tried that last year, and it didn’t work out so well for him.
Texas, the birthplace of high-stakes testing, rejected Common Core in favor of its own $468-million experiment in making everyone smarter with standardized tests. This sparked opposition similar to what Common Core is now facing, prompting Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, to accuse school administrators of “scaring mom. They’ve told mom that Johnny is not going to UT [University of Texas] because of the end-of-course exam.”
Dineen Majcher was one of those moms who had organized Texas Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, an unwieldy name most rejected for either the acronym TAMSA or the more popular “Moms Against Drunk Testing.” Majcher sees parallels between Hammond’s attempt to marginalize parents and Duncan’s unwise choice of words.
“Parents are tired of policymakers making accusations and excuses for the harmful and ineffective policies of over-testing. Before policymakers send more taxpayers’ dollars to testing companies, we need to come to grips with many issues, such as the purpose and underlying motives for more standardized tests. As parents, we know that ‘blame and shame’ does not work. Our policymakers’ insistence to use that approach with over-testing in public schools is irresponsible,” said Majcher.
TAMSA did not back down and convinced the legislature and Gov. Rick Perry to partially roll back the testing requirements.
As in Texas, Sec. Duncan’s attempt to blame mothers has caused a backlash. Sec. Duncan’s half-hearted apology for his “controversial-sounding soundbites” and “clumsy phrasing” has done nothing to quell the full-throated opposition. Critics have started a petition on WhiteHouse.gov to remove Duncan as Secretary of Education, and a Facebook group called Moms Against Duncan had more than 3,500 members.