Common Core Standards Daily Update // December 31, 2014

All this week, we are sending out some of our top News stories from 2014. Today, we focus on bipartisan political support for Common Core.

News You Can Use:

CNN: “Bill Bennett: Common Core Has No Better Alternative”: Former education secretary Bill Bennett writes many critics have “lost perspective” in the debate over CCSS. Bennett notes the 1983 Nation at Risk report “awakened the nation to its educational malaise” but since then not much has changed. In fact, some states were “dumbing down” standards and exams to hide poor performances. Bennett points out such disparities across states “promotes chaos and deception,” which CCSS seek to correct. He says the Standards are not without their problems, but some concerns have been exaggerated or made up by opponents. He concludes, “If Common Core fails, education reform will regress and American students’ flat or failing test results in learning will continue.”

What It Means: As Bennett points out, prior to CCSS there were large variations across states in what qualified as proficient, and often those numbers were inflated. Bennett notes in New York 87% of fourth graders were deemed proficient in math, but only 40% met NAEP (a national student performance evaluation) requirements for being deemed proficient. As a result, many students graduated high school unprepared for college or the workforce. CCSS set a high, congruent bar for states so that all students are held to high expectations that better ensure they have the skills to succeed after high school. Many states are tailoring the Standards further to ensure they meet their students’ needs.



Daily Beast: “Why Voters Love Common Core”: Voters in last month’s midterm elections sent a clear message they don’t want to abandon Common Core, and that they “want to continue with implementation of high standards and the results they promise,” writes former Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. “A majority of parents decided it’s hard to deny success in the classroom,” he notes, pointing to academic improvements in his home state of Tennessee under CCSS. “The opponents of Common Core may be louder than supporters, but the big gains achieved by students are what counted in voters’ minds.” Ford concludes as presidential campaigns gear up for the next election cycle, both parties should consider CCSS a political asset for candidates who can articulate the importance of high education standards.

What It Means: As Ford points out, warnings that CCSS would be a litmus test for political candidates did not materialize in the midterm elections. After 18 months of targeted attacks, voters largely supported candidates who support high education standards. As a result, political commentators are taking note and applauding candidates who are willing to stand up for CCSS and the promise the high standards hold for students and teachers.



Fox News: “Time for Conservatives to Reclaim Common Core Standards”: Gov. Sonny Perdue writes that states that embrace CCSS are seeing payoff in the form of higher proficiency and graduation rates. This data should encourage conservatives to reclaim the initiative they began. Perdue notes all but one of the 45 states that adopted CCSS are moving forward with them or something nearly identical, and says misconceptions fanned by opponents have sucked the air out of important discussion about the impact the Standards will have. “Conservatives owe it to the men, women and children in our classrooms to see through the work we began. Now is no time to give up on the CommonCore State Standards.”

What It Means: Gov. Perdue makes a strong case that conservatives should not give up on the work they started over largely inflated concerns stoked by a “few shrill voices” of opponents. States like Kentucky and Tennessee are proving that the Standards are making measurable improvements in our classrooms.



Miami Herald: “Common Core Can Narrow the Achievement Gap for Women”: Donna Shalala, president of Miami University, write that the “clear, consistent guidelines for the skills and knowledge students should master at each grade level” will help women pursue higher levels of education. “These uniform, more rigorous K-12 education standards have the potential to reduce gender-based inequities by ensuring that every young woman receives the educational foundation she needs to be successful in college and career,” Shalala writes. “Through better K-12 academic preparation, we can lower the number of female students and students of color taking remedial college courses. We know that even in our technology-saturated age, too many girls still don’t have enough access to rigorous coursework in science, technology, engineering and math.” Shalala adds that creating greater education equality will translate into better workplace parity as well. She concludes, “it may be the millions of young women being educated to Common CoreStandards today who are ultimately in a position to eliminate the glass ceiling once and for all.”

What It Means: By setting high expectations of all students, CCSS will help narrow education gaps among minorities and women. As Shalala points out, rigorous, even standards better ensure all students are held to high expectations, which open the doors to greater opportunity.