Conservatives can like the Common Core

Conservatives should support the Common Core standards, write Kathleen Porter-Magee and Sol Stern, who describe themselves as “education scholars at two right-of-center think tanks” (Fordham and the Manhattan Institute).

Glenn Beck  calls the standards a stealth “leftist indoctrination” plot by the Obama administration. Michelle Malkin warns that they will “eliminate American children’s core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.”  Not so, write Porter-Magee and Stern.

Common Core State Standards . . . describe what children should know and the skills that they must acquire at each grade level to stay on course toward college- or career-readiness, something that conservatives have long argued for. They were written and adopted by governors—not by the Obama administration—thus preserving state control over K–12 education. And they are much more focused on rigorous back-to-basics content than the vast majority of state standards they replaced.

Common Core doesn’t force English teachers to drop To Kill a Mockingbird in favor of government manuals, they write.  All teachers — not just English teachers — will expose students to informational texts and literary nonfiction. That includes “foundational texts of American history—the Gettysburg Address, Common Sense, and works of thought leaders like Emerson and Thoreau.”

(Non-fiction reading can inspire creativity, writes an AP English teacher in Ed Week’s Teacher.)

On the math side, opponents argue the standards are “squishy, progressive and lacking in rigorous content.”  But the math standards are dominated by content, write Porter-Magee and Stern.

 Unlike many of the replaced state standards, Common Core demands automaticity (memorization) with basic math facts, mastery of standard algorithms, and understanding of critical arithmetic. These essential foundational math skills are not only required but prioritized, particularly in the early grades. The math standards focus in depth on fewer topics that coherently build over time.

“For decades, conservatives have fought to hold students accountable for high standards and an academic curriculum imbued with great works of Western civilization and the American republic,” conclude Porter-Magee and Stern. “This is our chance to make it happen.”

Common Core could lead to “federal control of school curricula,” writes Neal McCluskey on Cato’s blog.  Porter-Magee will serve on the U.S. Department of Education’s technical review panel vetting Common Core tests developed by “Department-selected consortia,” he adds. If the feds control the tests, they control what’s taught in schools, argues McCluskey.

About Joanne


  1. Yes! We can learn to love the UN as well. Are these people on drugs???

    • I’m a conservative, and I love the UN! In theory. As it’s written on paper, in the UN Charter. It’s what the UN is in practice that I hate – and this is, at its core, because the UN allows dictatorships to be members in good standing along with democracies (democratic republics, constitutional monarchies, etc.) These dictatorships can often outvote the good guy countries on various matters, making the system corrupt.

      Would you allow convicted felons – especially those still serving in prison – to be on a city council, or a member of a Legislature? Of course not. So the UN will remain corrupt, and far from its ideals, as long as dictators get a vote there…

    • Yeah, I was going to let this go, but since Elim spoke up…The UN is one of the most corrupt, destructive organizations in the world. (Google “UN Peacekeeping, Africa, Rape” before dissenting.) On the bright side, the United States’ budget for the UN hasn’t been affected by the Sequester.

  2. “All teachers — not just English teachers — will expose students to informational texts and literary nonfiction.” — how does that interact with the “content heavy” math? How much mathematics will be dropped so math teachers can expose students to these informational texts?

    • I agree, that’s insane. The math teachers barely have time to cover the multitude of concepts and find practice time for their students as it is! The math teachers need to just be left the heck alone. They already know what they’ve got to do; the only teachers looking for time fillers are the ones that, well… don’t actually know math. (and yes, they’re out there… far too many of them out there)

  3. Patti W. says:

    You know, when Common Core was just starting, liberals were freaked out by it. Now conservatives are. Since no one’s happy, let’s just go ahead and implement it.

    I teach both math and science. My state already has decent standards. I find the Common Core standards to be superior in several ways. Beyond the specifics of the standards, I like that when I get a kid from another state in the middle of the year, I already have a sense of what he or she should have learned the year before. Any gaps I find will be individual, not institutional. I like that when a kid leaves my classroom at any point in the year, most teachers will be able to take that kid and build on what he or she knows without having to do a lot of digging) unless we’re talking about a learner with special needs).

    Anyway, Common Core was created by states, not the federal government. The costs of the testing are separate from the standards. It doesn’t have to cost much, though most states are taking a costly approach.

    Everyone likes to think that their own state has better standards than the Common Core. I think there’s only one state that can legitimately claim that (MA). And no, that’s not my state.

    • Ruth Joy says:

      Because people on two sides don’t like it isn’t an argument for adopting it.

      • Well, when both sides hate something, it usually means one of two things: (1) it’s a good compromise that will stand the test of time; or (2) it’s so horrible, such a disaster, that everyone – even people who disagree on EVERYTHING else – can see it. Which one is this one?

    • Uh, turning off our brain because two sides have disliked something is hardly clever.

  4. SuperSub says:

    The Common Core is like Clear Pepsi – great in theory, but inherently flawed. The flaw? Being tied to the federal and state governments, which will corrupt the policy in their efforts to placate various special interest groups and low information voters.

  5. scteacher says:

    The Common Core does link its ELA standards to a set of parallel standards that apply to Science/Technical subjects and History/Social Studies. They don’t make the same connection to the math standards. Unfortunately, the belief that math teachers will now be teaching reading and writing is widespread. If math teachers are being required to do “writing across the curriculum,” or some other window dressing to “comply with the new standards,” it is not because of the Common Core.

  6. I can’t speak to the actual content of the Common Core and I tend to be opposed to more government control of much of anything, but I do wish that states followed some general framework of when they taught different subjects. I moved between 8th and 9th grades. I had the ‘colonies to civil war’ part of US history 3 times, but never had state history, economics, or civics. One state covered them in middle school, the other in high school, and I missed both. I read a lot so it wasn’t a big dea, but for some students gaping holes in their knowledge would be a real problem.

    • Peace Corps says:

      I understand. I lived in 4 different states from first to twelfth grade. I never had individual state history, but my sister had to take 3 out of the 4 states we lived in.

      • Not to one-up you, but I’ve lived 12 different places during K-12, including internationally. Common Core wouldn’t have made things more consistent for students like me, or emigrants today. Despite having to re-learn to spell some words like “labour” and “gaol,” I can’t imagine it affected my literacy too very much.

    • Lulu, don’t worry. I’ve known many people who stayed in the same school system from K-12, and still have gaping holes in their knowledge, including nearly everything taught in school that wasn’t of immediate use out of school.