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Presidential Issues: Education


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Questioning the Common Core

September 1, 2015

By Frederick M. Hess

This summer, Republican presidential aspirants have roundly criticized the Common Core reading and math standards as federally supported and educationally unsound — and been lambasted by Beltway pundits for having the temerity to do so. The Washington Post editorial page laments that Republican “ideologues have so disfigured Common Core that supporters … now dare not speak its name.” The vice president for education at the Center for American Progress charges that “opponents of the Common Core have embarked on misinformation campaigns.” Frank Bruni of the New York Times dismisses GOP candidates as “excessively alarmed.”

In fact, the concerns the candidates are airing are legitimate and relevant.

The Common Core started with a reasonable and easy-to-like premise: American students would benefit if more states chose to use similar reading and math standards. From there, advocates made three giant mistakes. First, they convinced themselves that the Common Core’s transformative potential meant it was worth rushing into place — with aggressive support from the federal government via the Race to the Top program and more than $350 million to support Common Core tests. Second, they then switched gears and publicly insisted that the Common Core was really just an innocuous, technical exercise, and that public discussion and debate were unnecessary. Third, when skeptics raised questions about any of this, they dismissed them as either malicious or obtuse.

Read the full article at the American Enterprise Institute:  Questioning the Common Core

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