White Suburban Moms Unite! A Letter to Arne Duncan

“I find it fascinating that some of the opposition to the Common Core State Standards has come from 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.”

This statement came from Arne Ducan, the US Education Secretary as he spoke to a group of school leaders on Friday. You can read the story here, but really there’s not much more you need to know, because those few sentences say it all. The backlash of parents who are in an uproar over Common Core and what they are seeing in their children has hit, and it’s hit hard. The problem with Mr. Duncan’s statement isn’t that he called out white suburban moms, it’s that he made it pretty obvious that he’s not listening to anyone, including us pesky white suburban moms. 

So, hey, Mr. Duncan, I’m not sure if you read my blog post that was posted on October 2nd, titled “How Common Core Is Slowly Changing My Child”.  This post went viral in less than 24 hours and was read by almost two million people.  Mr. Duncan, white suburban moms weren’t the only people reading.  They certainly weren’t the only people commenting.  I can show you that the comments and feedback received were from people from all walks of life. The blog stats show readership in over 185 countries (What’s up, Uzbekistan? How we doing today?) I’m not sure if moms in Belarus or Armenia make up the white suburban mom demographic that you speak about, but they read and they commented. Most, Mr. Duncan, agreed. 

Mr. Duncan, who cares if it’s white suburban moms who oppose the new Common Core standards?  Who cares if it’s moms from the city, rural areas, or stay at home dads?  The point is, people are unhappy and part of your job is to listen. Clearly, you’re not.

We (and by we, I mean all of us. City folks, suburban dads, and yes, the angry white moms) are taking action and creating grassroots efforts to help our children.  We don’t think our kids are brilliant geniuses, we don’t expect them to get straight A’s just for showing up to school, but we do expect them to be children. Watching our kids cry over simple division because they know the answer but the new and “improved” common core math requires work to be shown three additional ways; three additional ways that are confusing even to the teachers and parents. Three additional ways that now create room for error, even though they already computed the answer correctly in the first place.  It’s watching our kids struggle over Common Core issued module reading like “Waiting For the Biblioburro”  that takes place in Mexico, so many words on each page are in Spanish.  Yes, expanding a child’s horizon to other cultures is important, and yes learning a new language is going to be imperative for their future, but third graders who are not yet expert readers now have to decode and comprehend bilingual texts. 

As long as my kids try their hardest, I don’t care if they receive average or below average grades, Mr. Duncan. I certainly received my share of mediocre grades, so I’m certainly not expecting everything to come easily for my children. The point that all of us parents who are willing to speak up are angered about, is how this whole Common Core business is being implemented. It’s how much testing is taking place, how much test prep is happening in the classroom due to the Common Core assessments and how much they play into our teacher’s evaluations (You can read more about that here). We are sick and tired of watching our kids who previously enjoyed school, who learned in all four learning styles, who had teachers who were able to use their professional experience and judgement to teach class without using modules, now come home exhausted and dispirited because their school day revolved around doing close reads for 90 minutes and a two hour math block. Mr. Duncan, can you sit still for 210 minutes and focus on one particular task?  My guess is no, not without a coffee refill and a quick diversion to that incoming email. These kids are five, six, seven years old and they’re not getting an email or coffee break. 

Mostly, we’re tired of people pointing fingers at us, as if we’re doing something wrong by showing an active involvement in our children’s education. Mr. Duncan, you’ve angered more people than just the white suburban moms.  I suggest you listen a bit more closely. 


Mrs Momblog, White Suburban Mom and Teacher

You can find me on Facebook by clicking the link below or follow me on Twitter @Mrs_Momblog


About Mrs Momblog

Mom of 3, wife of 1, teacher of 103. Sarcastic always.
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46 Responses to White Suburban Moms Unite! A Letter to Arne Duncan

  1. Lisa says:

    You go Mrs. Momblog!

  2. Dawn Fowler says:

    BRAVO!!! You hit the nail on the head!!!

  3. Megan says:

    It’s typical of the liberal left to start personal attacks. In fact, it’s in their playbook. I say GAME ON Arne!

    • Why would you introduce something so negative into such a positive conversation? “In fact,” many liberals I know, including myself, don’t participate in personal attacks. Frankly I think you are confused because if anything, that shoe is on the other foot. The writer struck such a good tone here and yours is misguided in my opinion.

      • Janet Meegan says:

        It’s in everyone’s playbook for those who have no intelligence on a subject. Sometimes it’s best just to stay quiet if you don’t have something nice to say.

    • People who make CC opposition about party politics, the alleged evils of evolutionary biology, the promotion of Christian homeschooling, and more general anxieties about the Obama administration only encourage the idea that CC opposition is anti-intellectual nonsense. When I hear someone critique CC based on how developmentally appropriate it is, I listen. When I hear someone ranting about Charles Darwin and climate conspiracies, I stop listening.

  4. Diane says:

    Way to go Mrs. Momblog! You’re spot on and thanks for speaking up for this white suburban mom!

    • Gail says:

      Keep up the fight! You are right on! Children will begin hating school, reading, writing and math with such a ludicrous curriculum. Politicians need to stay out of the classroom.

  5. Reblogged this on landreaulanguage and commented:
    Awesome parent/teacher thoughts on Common Core

  6. Amelia says:

    AMEN! You hit the nail on the head. Thank you !

  7. Krystal says:

    I think that it’s pretty ridiculous to make this a “racial” issue! I think what he should have targeted his statement to was intelligent,educated moms (who can see through the bull). Anyways, just sparked a nerve. I follow you b/c of you great post re: Common Core Standards and just for the record I am bi-racial Mr. Duncan.

  8. Tara Jenkins says:

    Every thing you siad was true, and heart renching. All people who are invested in the lives of children should be on alert. Common core is pure madness. I can not quit my job and home school, nor can afford priviate school. The parents are disheartened and overwellmed and so are our children.

    • If parents are willing to down size, be willing live with less for the sake of the moral fiber of there children then you can quit your job and home school! And if you are home schooling your children maybe you could home school your neighbor’s children too. And maybe make a few bucks doing it, maybe even more than your making now! Start a neighborhood school.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Good for u! Parents of all backgrounds, races, and economic levels feel the same about the common core and I am proud of all of those who speak up. It’s frustrating that the people in “authority” don’t want to hear what we have to say because it goes against what was implemented so they lash out with ridiculous statements that show their ignorance.

  10. Adrian Skinner says:

    Well said! Yes I am a mom! Yes I am white! Yes I live in Suburbia! Yes I am a college educator! No I was not surprised when my daughter tested below grade level and it was not because of the new standards… She has a learning disability… She is below grade level but her chances of catching up were decent before the new standards. Now I watch her cry every time she does her math. The one area she was not behind grade level… She used to say she was a math and science kid just like her mom but now she just cries or says she wants to be a social studies teacher… Thanks new standards and curriculum NYS is using to meet them! Thanks for turning a young lady off of the STEM fields! I appreciate it you undoing my life’s work… As a program chair of a NUCLEAR and TECHNOLOGY Engineer Technology program I fight to convince girls this is a great way to go… Thanks for making Math and in turn Science so convoluted that my daughter no longer wants to be in those courses… Thanks for making my learning disabled child think she is not good enough… Yes I am a mom in suburbia who just happens to be white but who cares! I am on the front lines… how about you Mr Secretary? How much time to you spend with the curriculum the states are adopting? How many days have you spent in a classroom?

  11. How about a white URBAN mom in a failing school system that just had it’s super canned for a massive grade changing scandal piping in…because THIS is what happens when teaching to the test goes very, very wrong. Systems change grades and the kids still lose. The worst year we ever had in school was when my child was forced to answer the math questions using ONLY the method the teacher designated. As you said, it didn’t matter if he found the answer another way. The lesson was on X method and he used Y method, so it was WRONG. It’s total BS. Our school system also took recess away from kids. The kids get silent lunch, too. It’s not just 3.5 hours of sitting…it’s a full DAY of no breaks except to potty and lunch.

    • Mrs Momblog says:

      I would be livid if I were you! LIVID!

    • Kate says:

      What school district are you? That can’t be legal. As a parent and a educator I would go crazy! Parents in your district need to come together and storm the board meetings about this! Have students opt out of the tests ( yes they can refuse to take the test). This is unacceptable!

  12. Leona Karl says:

    so true…..my high schoolers now say school sucks and it is a waste of time….what a shame…..

  13. Mary Ellen says:

    I really don’t understand why race has to enter into every problem this country has. How dare him for saying such a thing!!! I thank you on behalf of my grandchildren who are now being subjected to this common core torture !!! Keep up the great fight !!!

  14. Janet Meegan says:

    I find it fascinating that Arne Duncan has anything to do with education at all. How did that even happen? He has never taught in a classroom nor does he have an education degree at all, he never went to public schools and neither has his children. All equaling ZERO experience for a job that controls the public education system in this country. He did a terrible job in Chicago and he got a promotion because he plays basketball with the president. Unbelievable really.

  15. Just the name……..ARNE DUNCAN UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. stacy says:

    Maybe you have covered this in previous posts/blogs, but how do we fight this?? My girls Catholic school just implemented the core curriculum and I am livid! I thought I was safe leaving public. I’m about to go to homeschooling because of the political agenda being sneakily inserted with this movement.

    But, is there a first step, a petition, a government head we should go to first?

    Keep posting, good stuff 🙂

    • I am new to reading this blog and have been a little bit confused when I read some of the comments. Please take my question in the spirit in which it is intended, which is really to understand the opinions – what political agenda do you see being inserted as a result of the common core curriculum? Also, I could be mistaken, but I do not think that simply adapting the common core means that private school students would be subject to the same testing issues. I believe it is a public school issue because funding is tied to adapting it – then the testing and evaluations follow. Not positive, but I think that’s how it is.

      • KAM says:

        If the private school ( and from what I understand, many Catholic schools) accepted the RTTT funds, then they are accepting CCS and all it entails. I would be furious if I were paying private/Catholic school tuition and still having to deal with this.

      • @Kam – you are right then. I would be furious, too.

      • Cam says:

        Another consideration for private schools (and homeschoolers) is that the ACT and SAT are being changed to fit Common Core as well. We don’t know what that will look like yet, but students in private schools will need to be prepped somehow for the changes in those tests.

  17. Amy says:

    Awesome, awesome post! Imagine if he used any other race for his sad little argument? How racist would THAT be? Oh, but since he said white, and since he said women….I guess that’s okay. ALL parents should be up in arms about Common Core. It’s not developmentally appropriate and it is ruining our children.

  18. Mary Jackson says:

    I have seen this in my great=grand daughter who last year (first grade) was doing very well in school and loved going every day. Now, in second grade, when she is doing her homework, I see her cry and call herself stupid because she does not understand what they want her to do. She becomes very frustrated and wants to give up. Why can’t you just give up and let them learn the way we did, simple math, there should be only one way of doing it.

  19. prairieprof@yahoo.com says:

    E-mail Arne Duncan in protest of Common Core and about his comments of race and women. Let’s crash his email for a while.


  20. Jill Gould says:


  21. Sue Schrank says:

    Where in the Common Core does it reflect that standards need to be taught a certain method? Yes, it does require that certain things need to be learned and some States require them in order and on a timeline. I believe the comments regarding method might be a local decision – or specifically an instructor requirement. There are many benefits to the concept of the Common Core. Is it perfect? Probably not. But we can not continue to do what we have always done, either.

    • Kim Moore says:

      Sue…my thoughts exactly, and I couldn’t agree with you more! As I read the comments most of the discontent is about math. I am a 5/6 math teacher with a master’s in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in math….I say this only because deeply understanding the math is key to effectively teaching the math, and many teachers teaching math don’t understand the content matter themselves. Many of the math programs being used today do not fit the new curriculum or spiral too much that students easily become confused. The CCSS has streamlined what should be taught at each level, however that doesn’t mean every student gets the same instruction all the time. It’s the responsibility of teachers to differentiate based on student’s individual needs. Nowhere in the CCSS does it say keep pushing through no matter what. This is not a CCSS problem. Do I agree with Arne and his calling out a certain demographics? Not at all. His point is lost completely through degrading tactics. Shame on him. The point should be teacher training.

      • I agree with you that Common Core is not the primary issue, although many of the reading questions are bizarrely violent or involve situations to which kids have not been exposed, so it makes the task difficult or turns it into something else. I think people need to understand more about the problems with execution which are myriad. And Arne Duncan’s terribly condescending attitude does not help. It is shared by many “in charge,” including John King in my state, New York. Principals here have organized (and my husband has been very involved in that. I also think we need a whole lot more attention on the corporate interests. Between Pearson and Gates, we need to be skeptical. They have “identified” problems that only they can solve, by selling their products to the schools. Testing materials, then testing aids, Teacher evaluations, then teaching aids. InBloom, which is Gates-owned takes the kids’ personal data. It goes on and on. There is a lot of very useful info on this site: http://www.newyorkprincipals.org/

  22. tara says:

    As a white suburban mom, I agree with you, it shouldnt matter what color someone is or where they are from, the point is that we are concerned for our children-Bottom line We need our kids to enjoy school if we want them to continue to higher education. If they cant enjoy 3rd grade what is going to make them want to go to college.

  23. Sharon Nasby says:

    We need to get back to basic learning. Our children are struggling, having medical issues due to this Common Core teaching. We as parents, grandparents, and teachers need to take a stand for our children before it is to late. Who gave you the right to decide what is best for our kids? Can’t all of you see how this is hurting them? We all need to take a stand and get Common Core out of schools!!!!

  24. george says:

    My white suburban wife has been fighting Common Core for the past 2 years so that statement is B.S. They stop teaching vocabulary but yet every math question is more vocabulary than actual numbers, great idea and also they want to cut out history and science to give more math and english. Guess there is no room to teach these kids about the constitution so when they get older they won’t know what there rights are.

  25. Enough Already! says:

    Kids are under so much stress. I know 13 year old kids that are being prescribed meds for anxiety already. Being a teacher of 8-10 grade students, with all the new testing and requirements, I would like to see the stats of all the students and teachers that are now on blood pressure and anxiety medication. Some of the best teachers I know, just want out. What a shame for these kids….

  26. Jennifer says:

    Well said! There needs to be more coverage on the fact that Arne Duncan’s children attend school in VA, one of the only states that hasn’t adopted Common Core. Why is that?

  27. Lisa says:

    Very well said!

  28. Melanie says:

    I heard and interesting response to the outrage “white suburban moms” have expressed over Duncan’s comments. The response questioned why this same demographic wasn’t outraged at the educational inequality this country permits between “white suburban” and “Black and Latino urban” districts. Where is the outrage against a system that privileges white middle class culture?
    While I am far from being a fan of Arne Duncan, I think his comment suggests that the criticism of the CCSS comes from a population who already has access to the social and cultural capital privileged in our educational system and maybe those who are marginalized by race or class have a different perspective on the new standards.

  29. chris says:

    It is high time that government officials respect the voice of mothers! Mothers are the backbone of our society and good mothering will strengthen us as a nation by providing excellent citizens. Instilling a love for learning and self-efficacy in growing children is more important than meeting a government mandate. No wonder home schooling is becoming more popular.

  30. Michelle says:

    I completely agree.
    My 8 year old (3rd grade) LOVED school. She loved learning new things and seeing her friends and teachers. She soaked it all in. We’ve been going through the process of finding out what was going on with her (she has Epilepsy and other behavior/learning issues most likely stemming from the Epilepsy) and was recently diagnosed as being on the higher end of the Autism Spectrum. So now she has these extra “classes” outside of the classroom to help her cope and deal with some of her “issues” so that she can function in school as well as home and due to being out of the classroom during certain modules, she’s missing some of the things she needs to learn to do her homework.

    The new way of doing math, the reading assignments, etc… are not normal for 8! She had similar work in 2nd and 1st grade as well, but not to the extent as it is now. I didn’t start getting homework til I was in 5th or 6th grade!

    I know it’s not the teacher’s fault, We’ve had many discussions and are on the same page with everything. I already told her I don’t want my daughter taking these tests and I plan on opting her out (even though she would have an additional 2 hours to take them due to her IEP) and she said, “I’m not supposed to say anything, but I don’t blame you… and I’m not supposed to say anything, but I wouldn’t mind if the whole class opted out.”

    I’m not opposed to homework or new ways of learning, not at all. However, when you are forcing one child who learns better by way of “A method” and 3 children who learn better by way of “D method” and 6 children who learn better by way of “R method” to learn EXACTLY the same way in “53F method”, the majority will fail in the eyes of the ones who created it because THAT is how it MUST be taught AND learned and THAT is a bunch of bologna and cheese. EVERY child learns differently and my daughter is one who is proving that, big time.

    Some of her homework… I don’t even know how to explain it! Some questions I’ll just write the equation out and tell her to copy (no shame, I don’t care…) or I tell her to leave it blank or put a question mark. Her teacher has also said that if there’s a question we’re unsure of, it’s not a big deal, she can leave it blank. I at least try to get my child to attempt working it out, and that can be torturous. 3 hours. We sometimes spend 3 hours on homework – not because it’s necessarily difficult, but that’s how hard it is for her to comprehend it. If that’s how long homework can take her, then the tests will be worse. She already has anxiety issues when it comes to reading and math and call me a pushover, but I’m not going to force my child into a testing situation where she will be confined to a chair that she will have difficulty sitting in for 5 minutes let alone 3 or 4 hours.

    These state education “advisors” or whatever they are called can shove common core up their &#@%*.

  31. Steve Budde says:

    I have discovered your blog a little later than most it seems, but I’m catching up and loving it. Not a mom, and my kids are all out of school now, but I do work with kids and trying to help them with homework has been some of the most frustrating times of the past two years. I have never seen such convoluted methods of finding an answer in my life… Here is the thing, I bet who ever came up with these common core requirements hasn’t been in a classroom in the past 20 years, if ever. I think they need to spend a day in class learning the way they are making the kids learn. Can you imagine the look on Mr. Duncan’s face when he is told he got multiplication wrong because he didn’t show his work in the little boxes???

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