News You Can Use:

USA Today, “Who Invented the Common Core? Ask USA Today”: Answering reader questions, national education writer Greg Toppo explains the origins of the Common Core. “Common Core was actually created mostly by teachers,” Toppo says, “and it’s been a long time coming.” Noting several presidents have suggested higher, consistent education standards, in 2007 the Council of Chief State School Officers and National Governors Association “got together to get this effort going.” “It took about two years to create the actual standards…and by 2009, just about all the states had adopted them,” Toppo says, adding more than 40 states continue to still use the standards. Acknowledging controversy has emerged, particularly over math techniques and “crazy lessons,” the video explains such examples “were attributed to Common Core but really weren’t.” In fact such examples are “created by teachers locally or within a state who thought they were complying with Common Core.”

What It Means:   The video explains that contrary to claims the Common Core was developed by federal authorities, the standards were created by teachers and education experts under the leadership of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association. Like other experts including former Education Secretary Bill Bennett, Toppo points out that confusing problems attributed to the Common Core aren’t indicative of the standards but most often written by local educators. As Toppo points out, most states continue to use the Common Core or some nearly identical version because as experts explain: “It is virtually impossible to produce a set of K-12 academic standards that bear no resemblance to Common Core, and that adequately prepare students for college and career.

Associated Press, “Jindal Loses Appeal on Common Core Lawsuit in State Court”: On Wednesday, a Louisiana appeals court upheld a judge’s previous ruling that prohibited Gov. Bobby Jindal from suspending testing contracts tied to the state’s use of Common Core. The three-judge panel called Gov. Jindal’s attempt an “unconstitutional interference” into issues handled by the State Department of Education and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Gov. Jindal’s accusations “were a mere pretext to cloak their true intent to influence education policy in Louisiana,” Judge John Pettigrew wrote in the decision. A lawyer for the administration said Gov. Jindal will appeal the ruling because “of the troubling precedent that it creates for the administration of state government.”

What It Means:   The latest ruling reaffirms that Gov. Jindal’s move is little more than a thinly-veiled political calculation to win favor with a sliver of conservative voters. By seeking to get rid of the Common Core, Gov. Jindal created greater uncertainty and has done “irreparable harm” to classrooms. By setting high learning goals and giving local educators authority over how best to achieve them, the Common Core ensures more students will develop the skills they need to succeed at higher levels of learning and to ultimately graduate high school fully prepared for college or a career.

Newark Star Ledger, “Kendrick Lamar and This N.J. Teacher Are Bonding – Over ‘Hip Hop Education’”: Brian Mooney, a New Jersey high-school teacher, drew the attention of rapper Kendrick Lamar after using what he calls “hip hop education” to help student with concepts in the classroom. Mooney says the approach is “especially geared toward the Common Core Standards” and puts a emphasis on analytical reading. “One of the primary texts that I study with my sophomores is The Great Gatsby [which is about the American dream],” he says. “In a lot of ways, people like Jay-Z embody the American dream.” Mooney hopes students will “take their experiences, and not only understand themselves better and the world better, but ultimately go out into the world and start changing the communities that they’re part of.”

What It Means:   Examples like Mooney’s demonstrate how teachers are using the Common Core State Standards to develop lesson plans that engage students and help them develop the skills necessary to succeed at high levels of learning. In states across the country, local educators are developing lessons and materials that help students meet the high benchmarks established by the Common Core. A study last fall found more than two-thirds of school districts reported that local teachers were developing curricula to help students meet the goals of the Common Core.


Correcting the Record:

Boston Herald, “Don’t Know Much about U.S. History”: Noting more than 70 percent of U.S. students lack proficiency in history, civics and geography, columnist Jennifer Braceras says the findings are not surprising. “Ever since federal standards – first No Child Left Behind and now Common Core – forced schools to drill down on reading and math, civics education (once a requirement in every public school) has gone by the wayside…The combination of federal requirements that emphasize reading and math at the expense of other disciplines, the emphasis on STEM-based curricula, and current notions of political correctness have created a perfect educational storm. We now educate students for particular skills while allowing ignorance to flourish.”

Where They Went Wrong: Braceras blames the high standards for math and reading set forth by the Common Core (which she mischaracterizes as “federal standards” even though they were developed by and continue to be implemented by states) for low student proficiency in social studies subjects. Yet, the standards put a greater emphasis on non-fiction reading like important historical documents and, as many teachers express, create greater cross-curriculum collaboration. NAEP also found that student proficiency in reading and math is woefully low, a reality many states masked by systematically lowering academic expectations. By setting high learning goals and holding schools accountable to them through high-quality assessments, the Common Core is helping states address these Honesty Gaps.


On Our Reading List:

Education Week, “Johnny on the Spot: Ohio Gov. Kasich, Common Core, and the 2016 Campaign”: Ohio Gov. John Kasich has indicated he plans to run for the Republican presidential nomination, which would make him one of the candidates most outspoken in support of the Common Core. “[Common Core] is not something that Barack Obama is putting together,” Gov. Kasich has said before. “It’s local school boards developing local curriculum to meet higher standards. I cannot figure out what’s wrong with that.” On another occasion he added, “We don’t want the federal government driving K-12 education, and in my state – the state of Ohio – that’s simply not the case.”

Washington Post, “Where Has THIS Jeb Bush Been?”: In a campaign stop in New Hampshire after formally declaring his candidacy, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gave “his clearest defense of the Common Core.” “Common Core Standards are standards in reading and math, not anything else,” Gov. Bush said. “They’re higher in most cases than all but a handful of states. And I think it ought to be state-driven. In fact if I was elected president I would work with Congress if it’s not already done, because there’s the reauthorization of the K-12 law [that] will hopefully pass, that will prohibit direct or indirect involvement by the federal government in the creation of content, curriculum, or standards. This should be a local and state issue, not a federal issue.”

Tampa Bay Times, “Common Core Opponents to Protest Bush Event in Tampa Friday”: As many as 200 opponents of the Common Core are expected to protest outside of an event at which former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will speak on Friday. “We want to let all the presidential candidates and all state legislators and local legislators know that Common Core is not a winning issue,” said Terry Kemple, president of the Community Issues Council, a local conservative activism group.