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Embrace The Common Core

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  • Do New Common Core Tests Set the Bar Too High?

    Clip: Michael Petrilli, editor of Education Next and President of the Fordham Institute, and AEI scholar Frederick Hess debate national "cut scores" on Common Core tests.

  • Does Common Core's Focus on 'Close Reading' Make Sense?

    Clip: Former Assistant Secretary of Education Carmel Martin, Michael Petrilli, President of the Fordham Institute, and Washington Post blogger Carol Burris debate the studies backing "close reading."

Debate Details

In K-12 education, there is nothing more controversial than the Common Core State Standards, national academic standards in English and Math. Adopted by more than 40 states, they were developed, in part, to address concerns that American students were falling behind their foreign counterparts and graduating high school without the necessary skills for college and the workforce. But is this the reform we’ve been looking for? Has the federal government overreached and saddled our schools with standards that have been flawed from the start? Or will the Common Core raise the bar and improve the quality of our children’s education?

The Debaters

For the motion

Carmel Martin

Exec. VP, Center for American Progress and Fmr. Assistant Secretary of Education

Carmel Martin is the executive vice president for policy at American Progress. She manages policy across issue areas and is a key member of CAP’s... Read More

Michael Petrilli

President, Fordham Institute & Co-Editor, <em>Knowledge at the Core</em>

Mike Petrilli is an award-winning writer and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, one of the country’s most influential education-policy... Read More

Against the motion

Carol Burris

Principal, South Side High School & Blogger, Washington Post

Carol Burris, Ed.D. has been the principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, New York since 2000. She was named the 2013 NASSP New York... Read More

Frederick Hess

Resident Scholar and Director of Educational Policy Studies, AEI

An educator, political scientist and author, Frederick M. Hess studies K-12 and higher education issues. His books include Cage-Busting Leadership... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • The Common Core is a set of clear and consistent standards, based on extensive research, that encourage critical thinking skills. They are designed to give teachers flexibility in how they teach to individual students' needs.
  • Higher and more rigorous standards will better prepare American students for college and the workplace, and help to close the achievement gap between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. (Center for American Progress)
  • The Common Core has a great deal of support, from educators, the public, business leaders, and the over 40 states that have freely adopted its standards.
  • While the inaugural curricula face issues, these are growing pains in implementation, rather than flaws inherent to the instructional philosophy.
Against The Motion
  • The Common Core was created with little input from teachers or the public, and there is no governing body tasked with oversight now that they are in effect. (New York Times)
  • These tougher, more stringent standards will do the opposite of their intent: instead of creating fairer, more equitable K-12 schools, they are widening the gap between the haves and have-nots.
  • School districts and teachers should have the autonomy to create their own standards and curricula at the local level, rather than being held to national criteria and impossible standardized tests.
  • The narrow focus of the Common Core standards places high value on certain skill sets while overlooking others, such as creativity, imagination, and vocational training.

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The Research

The Research

Common Core State Standards Initiative

December 31, 1969

This site is the official home of the Common Core State Standards. It is hosted and maintained by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center).

Good Reasons Abound to Oppose Common Core

Neal McCluskey
June 13, 2014

The Common Core, by its nature, must treat every child as essentially the same.

In Defense of the Common Core Standards

Joshua Bleiberg and Darrell West
March 1, 2014

The Common Core standards offer several virtues in terms of innovation, collaboration, and personalized learning.

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