Duncan: Sorry if anyone was offended by my playing the race card on Common Core opposition

Honestly, I had to read this a couple of times before I could believe it.  Did Education Secretary Arne Duncan really say that opposition to his Common Core program was mainly from “white suburban moms” unhappy with test score declines from their children? Could anyone be that clumsy and still keep his Cabinet position? That’s a rhetorical question, of course, considering that Kathleen Sebelius is still on the job, but still.

Anyway, yes he did, on Friday:

“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,” Duncan said, according to media reports. “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.”

And now he’s sorry. Sort of:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan tried Monday to quell the outrage sparked by his comments that injected race and class into the debate about the Common Core academic standards taking root in classrooms across the country.

Duncan said Friday that he was fascinated by the fact that some opposition to the standards was coming from “white suburban moms” who fear that “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were.”

The remark lit up social-media sites, prompting pointed responses from bloggers, an open letter from a school superintendent, digital images of Duncan’s official federal portrait with the word “bigot” emblazoned across it, and one congressman’s call for Duncan’s firing.

What specifically did Duncan regret about his statement? “Clumsy phrasing.” No, seriously:

“I used some clumsy phrasing that I regret — particularly because it distracted from an important conversation about how to better prepare all of America’s students for success,” he wrote. “I want to encourage a difficult conversation and challenge the underlying assumption that when we talk about the need to improve our nation’s schools, we are talking only about poor minority students in inner cities. This is simply not true. Research demonstrates that as a country, every demographic group has room for improvement.”

I’m still somewhat agnostic on the specifics of Common Core, but I’ve certainly followed the opposition to it as spearheaded by my dear friend and Boss Emeritus Michelle Malkin, who isn’t a “white suburban mom.” I’m naturally skeptical of one-size-fits-all solutions from Washington, though, especially on education, and the plan looks like a typical Ten Year Plan that ignores the damage done in the short term. Casting opposition to this in racial terms is not just offensive, it’s practically an admission that the Obama administration can’t answer the legitimate criticisms against the program.

Dana Loesch debated the issue with former Frank Lautenberg adviser Julie Roginsky on The Kelly File last night. Dana, another friend of mine opposed to Common Core, passionately and patiently makes the argument that Common Core is yet another assault on local control over education, while Roginsky has no answer for the “clumsy phrasing” from Duncan:


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