For months, some conservatives have been raising questions about the Common Core State Standards—some valid, some not. Several concerns relate to the process officials used to develop and adopt the standards. Others focus on the assertion that the Common Core will result in a federal takeover of curriculum, deep invasions of personal privacy, or indoctrination in the classroom. Unfortunately, these latter charges are based on misinformation about even the basics of what the Common Core standards—or any set of standards, including those that have been in place in every state for years—are actually about.
Those still wondering about such critiques would be well advised to read our evaluation of each state’s old standards in English language arts and mathematics, as well as the Common Core themselves. The standards cover the basics of what students should know in English and math by the time they graduate from high school—and that’s about it.
With so much misinformation out there, facts can be elusive, but they are worth seeking. And even though some conservative criticisms may emanate from bad information, I believe most on the Right share a desire for high expectations for students and strong accountability for the adults and institutions of the education system.
But even conservatives who, despite this information, have made up their mind that the Common Core are an unambiguous evil, should pay attention to the ways many on the Left are now working to take advantage of pockets of unease about the standards (polling still shows strong support for the standards among rank-and-file teachers and the public) and use it to achieve their own ends. If these left-wing advocates get their way, conservatives of all stripes and all viewpoints regarding the Common Core will be seriously disappointed.
Michael Brickman is the national policy director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where he furthers educational excellence as a commentator on education-reform issues and is a regular contributor to the Flypaper blog and other publications. He currently lives in Washington, D.C. and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org