News You Can Use:

Vox, “Ted Cruz Can’t Repeal Common Core”: Sen. Ted Cruz, who will officially announce his presidential bid this morning, has repeatedly called for the “repeal of Common Core,” but he is already having trouble answering what exactly he would repeal. “The standards were developed and voluntarily adopted by states,” the article reports. “There is no federal Common Core law to uproot.” Noting that Sen. Cruz has indicated he would go after Race to the Top incentives, the article says, “That’s pretty meaningless in 2017, when the money will have run out anyway” and giving states incentives to abandon CCSS would amount to “just another form of federal interference.” “The truth is Common Core is probably here to stay…Changing course now is expensive and logistically difficult.”

What It Means: After nearly five years of preparation and two national elections, all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt CCSS continue to move forward with their implementation. The fact that the Standards have demonstrated such resiliency is a testament to the quality of their content and the impact they are having. Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli wrote recently, “It’s impossible to draft standards that prepare student for college and career readiness and that look nothing like Common Core. That’s because Common Core, though not perfect, represents a good-faith effort to incorporate the current evidence of what students need to know and do to succeed in credit-bearing course in college or to land a good-paying job.”

New York Times, “Two Views of Testing, From the Front Lines”: Kristin DeLorenzo, a New Jersey fifth-grade teacher, writes, “Common Core has provided teachers with rigorous standards, higher expectations and an opportunity to raise the bar for the students we teach. It seems perfectly logical, then, that the assessments used to evaluate student growth are also rigorous.” DeLorenzo says high-quality assessments help monitor student growth, and are a necessary tool to guide instruction. Noting that the initial transition may be difficult, DeLorenzo says, “I don’t doubt that as we all raise our expectations, our children will persevere and rise to meet them. They have not let me down yet.”

What It Means: Strong student assessments are an important tool to measure progress in the classroom and to identify and address learning needs. Exams aligned to the high expectations laid out by CCSS will provide educators and parents with more constructive, timely information about how well students are developing the skills necessary to succeed at high levels.

Wichita Eagle, “Common Core Repeal Dies in Kansas House Committee”: Legislation that sought to repeal CCSS in Kansas died in the state’s House Education Committee last week after “a long and heated debate.” HB 2292 and two amendments that would have allowed the state to gradually phase out the Standards were voted down on Friday. “These measures failed in part because some supporters of repeal, such as Rep. Tony Barton, refused to vote for anything other than immediate repeal,” the article reports. “Although the legislation may resurface as an amendment at some point, the issue is likely settled for the session.” Earlier in the week a group of 30 students, teachers and parents visited the Capitol to urge lawmakers not to repeal the Standards.

What It Means: The decision in Kansas adds to the list of states continuing to move forward with implementation of CCSS. After two national elections, all but one of the 45 states that initially adopted the Standards continue to move forward with them. States like Kentucky and Tennessee, two of the earliest adopters of CCSS, have seen some of the biggest academic improvements in the country under the Standards.


Correcting the Record:

Breitbart News, “Common Core Claims of High Quality Not Valid”: Dr. Ze’ev Wurman, a member of the Common Core Validation Committee, says promises that CCSS are research and evidence-based, internationally benchmarked and aligned with college- and career-readiness expectations have not been met. “Not all the Validation Committee members were willing to attest that the Common Core is, indeed, internationally benchmarked and reflects college readiness,” Wurman says. “In fact, five of the 29 members declined to sign, even though one would be hard pressed to find any mention of that in the Common Core Validation Report.” Wurman adds, “It also doesn’t take an expert to observe that Common Core’s ‘college preparation’ in mathematics amounts to a poor-man’s Algebra 2 and Geometry courses. The U.S. Department of Education’s own data shows that with only Algebra 2 preparation – even the full course – the chances of a student to end up with a Bachelor’s degree – any Bachelor’s degree – is less than 40%…By now it should be clear that Common Core is not even close to being internationally benchmarked, or preparing our students for college…Parents are justified in their complaints about the strange and meaningless homework their children are bringing home, and they should distrust educators who uncritically praise them.”

Where They Went Wrong: CCSS set high academic expectations to better ensure that more students are prepared for college and career-level work. Michigan State University Professor William Schmidt found that the Standards are 90% aligned with those of top performing countries, and objective analysis by the Fordham Institute found that the Standards are harder than 39 states’ previous Math standards, and 37 states’ previous ELA standards. Research has also shown over and over again that taking a rigorous Algebra 2 course is the best preparation for success in college and for equipping students with the high-level thinking and robust skill set that today’s jobs require. Not only are the claims of Wurman wrong, but previous standards did not prepare kids for college. For example, under old standards, about 40% of Oklahoma high school graduates had to take at least one remedial college class. Under a patchwork of weak standards, American students have been falling behind international peers for years. Previous standards weren’t working, and Common Core standards are one part of the solution to help all kids become college and career ready.

Breitbart News, “Gov. Scott Walker and the Problem of Common Core”: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to let school districts out-out of CCSS does not go far enough to get rid of “the nationalized initiative,” the article says. Although Gov. Walker has called for replacing CCSS with standards crafted by Wisconsin officials, he has not put his full support behind repeal bills and has helped broker a deal to turn one repeal bill into language that would create a review committee. After calling on the legislature to replace CCSS, he later noted that any new standards could look similar to Common Core. “Walker’s statement demonstrates that a full repeal of Common Core statewide is not likely; and that the ‘opt-out’ message would be emphasized instead,” the article notes. “Wisconsin school districts retain the theoretical authority to adopt their own standards, but since they will be judged by a Common-Core-like state test on Common-Core state standards, this is fake authority,” Dr. Ze’ev Wurman says. The article adds Gov. Walker’s bigger problem is “the ease with which [he] has allowed the federal government to intrude upon his state’s constitutional right to create its own education policy.”

Where They Went Wrong: The article perpetuates the myth that CCSS represent a federal overreach into state education. Objective analysis has repeatedly rejected the idea that federal authorities had any role in the creation of the Standards, or that they open a door for government to control how or what is taught in the classroom. Despite calling for the state to replace CCSS, Gov. Walker’s position underscores that it is difficult to come up with standards that are equally as strong, and that do not include the same content because, as Mike Petrilli has pointed out, CCSS are built on the best available data and practices.


On Our Reading List:

Univision, “Desigualdad en la Educación Afecta a Minorías”: Last week, Elder Bernice King, head of the King Center, and Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC, met with pastors in Atlanta to urge leaders in the faith community to make high education standards and greater educational equality a priority. Elder King and Rev. Rodriguez spoke with several Hispanic media outlets, including Univision and El Nuevo Georgia. “We have a lot of work to do in terms of raising the standards in education to overcome [education gaps]…Education is the most important civil rights issue of our time,” Elder King told CBN News.

Washington Post, “It’s Official: Cruz Announces 2016 Candidacy”: Sen. Ted Cruz announced via Twitter that he will officially launch a presidential campaign. The formal announcement will be made this morning at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Sen. Cruz becomes the first major candidate to declare candidacy. Sen. Cruz has repeatedly called for the “repeal of Common Core,” though several media outlets have noted that the tagline is rhetorical since there is no federal Common Core law and the Standards were developed and voluntarily adopted by states.

Associated Press, “Arizona Senate Committee Passes Bill Ditching Common Core”: The Arizona Senate Education Committee approved a bill seeking to replace CCSS after amending the bill to  allow the state board of education to help adopt new guidelines. “This whole program is built on something that is a violation of U.S. code,” said Rep. Mark Finchem, a sponsor of the bill. The legislation, HB 2190, would end CCSS, set up a committee to study alternatives and require the board of education to work with the committee to draft new standards.

Breitbart News, “Scott Walker to Headline Arizona Chamber of Commerce Leadership Event”: Gov. Scott Walker will headline the first in a series of leadership luncheons hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will also participate in the event. The Chamber of Commerce has been a strong supporter of CCSS. Gov. Walker has previously called for repeal of the Standards in Wisconsin, and more recently said districts should be able to choose what standards to use.