News You Can Use:

Huffington Post, “John Kasich Calls Out Conservatives Who Oppose Common Core”: Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich responded to criticisms of CCSS from fellow Republican leaders. Gov. Kasich emphasized the Standards were written by “state education superintendents and local principals” and “curriculum is set by local school boards.” “I’ve asked the Republican governors who have complained about this to tell me where I’m wrong, and guess what, silence,” the governor said. “Part of the problem is today politicians are running to try to get votes…We’re not going to turn this over to Washington, or even to Columbus, our state capital. It’s local schools with local school boards and high standards. I don’t know how anybody can disagree with that unless you’re running for something.”

What It Means: As Gov. Kasich points out, CCSS began as and remain a state-led initiative. After two national elections, all but one of the 45 states to adopt the Standards continue to use them or some rebranded version. States that have sought to repeal CCSS for political reasons have run into challenges trying to come up with equally rigorous standards and risk putting their students at a disadvantage.   

San Diego Union Tribune, “Education System in Need of Remediation”: Shawn McCoy writes Pres. Obama’s proposal to invest more in college accessibility risks “pumping more taxpayer money into funding remedial education” by ignoring the need to better prepare students in the K-12 system. The article notes more than 50% of community college students need remediation, and only about one in 10 of those individuals ultimately graduate on time. “We cannot rely on community colleges to be an extra two years of high school…From a policy perspective, conservatives and liberals can likely agree we would be better off making sure students graduate high school equipped to meet certain college- and career-ready standards.” McCoy says CCSS provide the right framework for correcting the problem at a relatively “minimal” cost. “Unfortunately, some conservatives have relentlessly attacked the idea out of an irrational disgust that even President Obama realizes Common Core is a good idea. But perhaps conservatives should take a hard look at the alternative offered by President Obama — a massive, new entitlement that pumps endless taxpayer dollars into a system that has already proven itself ineffective.”

What It Means: McCoy points out that calling for greater access to higher education ignores the first step, which should seek to improve outcomes for students in the K-12 system. As the Collaborative’s Karen Nussle pointed out, “[Pres. Obama’s] plan runs the risk of subsidizing remedial education at the community college level by paying colleges to teach high school content. Regardless of your thoughts on college affordability and accessibility, let’s all agree that a high school diploma must mean a young person has the skills they need to succeed in college, or a career of their choice.”

Green Bay Press Gazette, “Data-Driven Teaching Earns Wrightstown School Top Grade”: At Wrightstown Middle School, which recently ranked near the top of Wisconsin’s schools, teachers attribute students’ strong performance on state tests to a concerted effort to implement curricula aligned to CCSS. “We are very progressive because we looked at what was there, and we jumped in with both feet. We try to be proactive instead of waiting to see what happens and then end up walking in with our tail between our legs,” said the school’s principal Lee Mierow. “[Students] get very self-sufficient,” said one of the school’s reading specialist, pointing out students have shown increased engagement as a result of high academic expectations.

What It Means: States and districts that adopted CCSS and have put support behind their implementation have seen some of the biggest academic improvements in the country. As the article points out, Wrightstown schools attribute their success not only to strong educators and leadership, but to increased expectations for all students under CCSS.


Correcting The Record:

ABC News, “GOP Summit Republicans Turn Fire on Obama, Clinton, and Each Other”: At the Iowa Freedom Summit, several Republican voices criticized CCSS including Donald Trump, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore and former Senator Rick Santorum. “Common Core – that’s a disaster – it’s bad. It should be local and all of that,” Trump said. “We need less Common Core and more common sense,” said Sen. Santorum. Gov. Scott Walker drew attention for taking a more tempered approach, noting Wisconsin has aimed to provide schools with greater flexibility about what standards to use. He did not name CCSS directly. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee said CCSS as brand has become tarnished, but that he still supports high standards (see more below). “It has morphed into a frankenstandard that nobody, including me, can support. Other prominent Republicans including Gov. Chris Christie, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal did not directly address CCSS.

Where They Went Wrong: Candidates demonstrated over the weekend an eagerness to earn credit with voters among a crowded pool of likely candidates. Sadly, some bent to the small but vocal constituency claiming seeking to get rid of CCSS. As the midterm elections demonstrated, while the Standards may be a rallying cry for the extremes of the party, most voters support high education standards and will reward those who support them. As Gov. John Kasich pointed out, most opposition to CCSS is a matter of trying to win votes, not pursue policy that sets up a system that prepares students for the challenges of college or a career.


On Our Reading List:

Washington Post, “What Happens When the Common Core Becomes Less…Common?”: Noting once strong state buy-in for CCSS has become “fragmented amid political blowback,” Emma Brown examines what impact divisions could have on implementation of the Standards. Eu Hyun Choi, a Chicago seventh-grade teacher, says different standards and tests make it difficult to gauge how well students are doing and whether they are being held to a lower bar. “I just felt like Illinois students were getting cheated,” she says. “At the end of the day, people just want to know what do they want us to teach so we can make sure that kids are prepared for the types of assessments that are coming up,” says Natalie Shaw, an Indiana second-grade teacher. The article notes the opposition comes amid a broader debate about standardized testing. “I really don’t see it as a problem,” the Collaborative’s Karen Nussle says. “I think the testing landscape is going to continue to evolve, and I’m really optimistic.”

Christian Post, “Mike Huckabee on Common Core and Running for President”: In an interview with CP, Gov. Mike Huckabee said he does not specifically defend CCSS but believes states should have high education standards and there is value in having students in different states be on the same track. In his most recent book, Gov. Huckabee says CCSS are a “good idea gone bad,” but he clarified, “What my point was, and remains, is that we should create higher standards, not lower ones.” “How do you, say, play basketball, if in one part of the country the goal is 10 feet from the floor, but in other parts of the country they’ve lowered it down to six, that way all their kids can slam dunk the ball?”

Bloomberg, “Jeb Bush Starts Sounding Like a Candidate”: In a speech to the National Automobile Dealers Association conference on Friday, Gov. Jeb Bush defended the value of high education standards. “As I look over the horizon, I see great social strains if we don’t get education right,” Gov. Bush said. “This needs to be, not a federal program by any stretch of the imagination, but this should be a national calling. A great country like America needs to make sure that students will have the skills and the drive and the determination to rise up.”

Ed Week, “School Districts Turn to Teachers to Lead”: To help manage implementation of CCSS more school districts are turning to “teacher leaders” to help run professional-development sessions, coach their peers, and write curricula. Last year the Department of Education and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards introduced the Teach-to-Lead Initiative. “Even before that most recent boost, many districts and states—including Camas in Washington state and the state of Tennessee—have been tapping the expertise of their most effective teachers to help roll out major policy initiatives such as the common standards and new teacher-evaluation systems,” the article reports.

Mississippi Daily Journal, “House Approves Renaming Common Core”: Last week the Mississippi House voted 95-21 to approve a bill that would remove the Common Core label from the state’s academic standards but would not repeal the substance of CCSS. The bill would officially rename the standards the Mississippi College and Career-Ready Standards. The House also passed legislation that ensures local school districts are able to develop their own curriculum to teach to the standards. House Speaker Philip Gunn said, “Today, we took a big step clarifying that Mississippians are in control of our educational standards. Mississippi’s education decisions must be made by Mississippians.”