Strange bedfellows, liberal teachers and the Cato institute against the Common Core.

I doubt we could agree on the sky is
blue and puppies are cute but here we are agreeing that the Common Core is the
wrong way to go.

From the Cato Institute by Neil
about anyone who opposes the Common Core national curriculum standards, under
serious reexamination in Florida right now, is either a kook or a goof. That,
at least, is the impression an impartial observer would get from listening to
Core supporters.

But the reality is quite the
opposite: education thinkers from across the political spectrum are taking on —
and apart — the Core.
the face of powerful and growing grassroots concern, there is a major effort
underway to paint Core opposition as grounded in “misinformation” and plain old
craziness. For instance, former governor Jeb Bush, arguably the Core’s greatest
champion, has repeatedly questioned the motives and knowledge of Core
opponents. Recently, he accused them of employing conspiracy theories, and
several months ago he berated the Republican National Committee for voting to
condemn the Core “based on no information.”
Mr. Bush is not alone. In a
recent oped, Michael J. Petrilli and Michael Brickman of the Thomas B. Fordham
Institute characterized Core opponents as a “small but vocal minority of
conservatives” coupled with a bit of “the far left.” In other words: scary
fringe types.
Like in every group, there are
some Core opponents who say outlandish things, but that is the exception, not
the rule. Much more important is the diverse group opposing the Core who are
the exact opposite of the “kook” stereotype: education experts.
The Common Core is opposed by
scholars at leading think tanks on the right and the left, including the
Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the Brookings Institution and the
Cato Institute. My research has shown that there is essentially no meaningful
evidence that national standards lead to superior educational outcomes.
Hoover Institution Senior Fellow
Eric Hanushek, an education economist and supporter of standards-based
education reform, has reached a similar conclusion, recently writing: “We
currently have very different standards across states, and experience from the
states provides little support for the argument that simply declaring more
clearly what we want children to learn will have much impact.”
Hanushek’s conclusion dovetails
nicely with Common Core opposition from Tom Loveless, a scholar at the
left-leaning Brookings Institution. In 2012, Loveless demonstrated that moving
to national standards would have little, if any, positive effect because the
performance of states has very little connection to the rigor or quality of
their standards, and there is much greater achievement variation within states
than among them.
In fact, Loveless has been one of
the clearest voices saying the Core is not a panacea for America’s education
woes, writing: “Don’t let the ferocity of the oncoming debate fool you. The
empirical evidence suggests that the Common Core will have little effect on
American students’ achievement. The nation will have to look elsewhere for ways
to improve its schools.”
Moving to arguably the far left,
education historian Diane Ravitch has also taken on the Core, noting that it is
untested, was assembled behind closed doors, and was essentially foisted on
schools by the federal Race to the Top contest. That it also seems intended to
produce huge increases in test failures — as occurred when New York employed
Core-aligned tests without Core-aligned curricula — seemed to push Ravitch over
the edge.
“I hope…that the Common Core
standards are great and wonderful,” Ravitch wrote on her blog when she first
came out against the standards, but added: “I wish they were voluntary, not
mandatory. I wish we knew more about how they will affect our most vulnerable
students. But since I do not know the answer to any of the questions that
trouble me, I cannot support the Common Core standards.”
There is an extremely
well-informed opposition to the Core, and dismissing opponents as loony does
Florida’s children no service. Indeed, as the Sunshine State struggles with how
to move forward, ignoring crucial analysis and research puts them in serious

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