The news earlier today that the Koch brothers are joining the fight against Common Core complicates the political calculus surrounding the controversial standards.

The Politico article gives the impression that the rightwingers are the main critics of Common Core by failing to mention that the most zealous advocates for Common Core are Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, the Business Roundtable, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Anthony Cody tries to sort out the political contradictions here.

He writes:

“But blaming progressive critics of Common Core for the rise of this conservative movement turns reality on its head. The people who have let down our public schools are those who are willing to embrace standardization and high stakes tests as some sort of “progressive” guarantor of equity. We have been down this path with No Child Left Behind, which was sold to us by an alliance of liberal and neo-conservative politicians. We were told children in poverty would get more attention and resources once standardized tests “shed light” on just how far behind they were. We got teacher ‘evaluation’ schemes built around faulty VAM metrics, leading to mass demoralization and too-many losses of strong educators, simultaneous with a hypocritical push to replace seasoned teachers with Teach for America novices. The result? Intense pressure to raise test scores, narrowed curriculum, and school closings by the hundreds – all with the mantle of approval by our “liberal” leaders. Who really got played here?

“Then Common Core came along in 2009. Everyone was weary of NCLB, and ready for change. But some of us could read the writing on the wall. The fancy words about critical thinking and “moving beyond the bubble tests” sounded nice, but a closer look revealed standards that were originally written with little to no participation by K12 teachers. The promises to get rid of bubble tests only meant that the tests would be taken on expensive computers. The promise to escape the narrowing of curriculum only meant we would be testing more often, in more subjects.

“So many of us started raising concerns. The basic premise of Common Core was similar to NCLB – our schools are failing, and we must respond with “higher standards,” and more difficult tests. But the indictment of public education has been wrong from the start, and we should not lend it credence by supporting phony solutions.”

The bottom line, in my view, is that Common Core is getting increasingly controversial because of the way it was developed and imposed. The absence of a democratic process and the lack of transparency caused a lack of trust and an abundance of suspicion. In a democracy, major changes like national standards for public schools must be done with maximum sunlight and participation, not in secrecy. The fact that no amount of true grassroots opposition from parents is sufficient to alter the views of policymakers like Arne Duncan or New York’s Commissioner John King serves to feed the rage against Common Core, from right, left, and center, from parents and educators.

The Common Core is becoming increasingly toxic. As it becomes more controversial, its chances of survival will dim. The more that policymakers shun reasonable parents and teachers, the more frustrated the excluded become. If Common Core dies, don’t blame the Koch brothers: Blame Arne Duncan, the Gates Foundation, Achieve, David Coleman, the NGA, the CCSSO, and all those who thought that national standards could be imposed swiftly without the hard work of listening and participation that democracy requires.