A few months ago at one of the many speaking events I do around the country, an earnest questioner asked for my assessment of “the Common Core.”
I confessed then that while I had heard the term and knew generally that it was an education reform sweeping the country, that I was unfamiliar with its particulars. I quickly transitioned to the glories of public charter schools in places like Phoenix where I am on the Board of Great Hearts Academies and knew a bit about the subject matter of the particular education reform initiative I was talking about.
As the months went by and the speaking engagements continued, so did a rising tide of questions and comments on “the Common Core.” Again and again I punted, until an opening in the radio schedule allowed me to devote some serious time to the subject, and to do so by searching out voices both pro-and-con.
That discussion got underway this week, with extended on air talks with former education secretary and my Salem radio Network colleague Dr. Bill Bennett and Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews on Monday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and current Florida United States Senator Marco Rubio on Tuesday, and Wednesday with Common Core analyst and expert Michael Q. McShane of theAmerican Enterprise Institute.
Midway through my first week of digging –and a pile of emails that are overwhelmingly negative—I would say I think the Common Core was a well-intention effort at reform that took off like a rocket, was commandeered by the federal Department of Education with the consequence that it is now perceived as having taken a hard-left and deeply ideological turn to the left.
I stress “perceived,” for there are clearly some places and some cases where this has not happened, but judging from the reaction of activists, “Common Core” is going to end up as popular as the Department of Education and Title IX with center-right education reformers and especially with parents and voters on the Republican side of the red-blue divide.