Common Core opposition is hardening

George Will’s column condemning Common Core is a very bad sign for the standards’ advocates, writes Andy Smarick in Flypaper. “Principled opposition” to Common Core is “hardening.”

Will sees federal overreach in the Obama administration’s use of Race to the Top and ESEA waivers to push states to adopt national standards.

Second, “centralization and uniformity” have costs, writes Will.

“Even satisfactory national standards must extinguish federalism’s creativity: At any time, it is more likely there will be half a dozen innovative governors than one creative federal education bureaucracy. And the mistakes made by top-down federal reforms are continental mistakes.”

Third, some Common Core defenders aren’t willing to debate the issues, writes Will. “Proponents seem to deem it beneath their dignity to engage opponents’ arguments, preferring to caricature opponents as political primitives and to dismiss them with flippancies.”

Lots of parents and other voters “are skeptical of big promises and big government,” writes Smarick.

They are skeptical of centralized solutions. And they are skeptical of enlightened national leaders who pat them on their heads.

Common Core advocates should keep all of this in mind as they glibly extol the virtues of embracing common standards, of setting a national bar for excellence, of following an exquisitely crafted set of learning goals fashioned by experts. They should keep it all in mind as they respond to criticism with answers amounting to “there’s nothing to worry about, we have this under control,” or—in moments of weakness—something more condescending.

Smarick wants Common Core standards to succeed.

Common Core opponents come from many political directions. New York teachers’ union voted to withdraw support for the new standards.

It wants more time for teachers to review the Common Core lessons the state has been promoting, and it’s demanding more input on whether they are grade-appropriate. Parents and teachers have complained that the standards push the youngest kids too fast, demanding so much work from kindergarteners that there’s little time for the play that’s deemed essential for young children’s development. On the other end of the scale, they have complained that the high-school math trajectory laid out by the Common Core leaves out key math concepts and does not push top students to take calculus.

Teachers also want a chance to “teach to the test,” reports Politico. “The union is also demanding that all questions on the new Common Core exams be released so teachers can review them and use them to shape instruction.”

States are getting cold feet about Common Core testing, reports USA Today.

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