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All Common Core Critics Aren't Extreme

November 11, 2013 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

If you’re an ardent fan or staunch opponent of the Common Core national curriculum standards, chances are you attended or closely followed the recent statewide hearings in Wisconsin. If you’re an impartial observer reading reports in the politicized aftermath, you might get the impression that all Common Core opponents are either kooks or kook-hired guns. But the reality is the opposite. In fact, education experts from across the political spectrum are taking on — and apart — Common Core.

There is an extremely well-informed opposition to Common Core, and dismissing all Common Core opponents as loony does children no service.”

Unfortunately, the headlines at the end of the hearings had nothing to do with whether Common Core was good for Wisconsin’s children; instead, they were about who covered the expenses of anti-Common Core experts brought in to give their analyses. That could be because some elected Wisconsin officials are spending their time politicizing the debate instead of engaging in honest discussion. Last month, a letter signed by four Democratic state legislators denounced Common Core opponents by associating them with “fringe” groups and “conspiracy theories.”

Such marginalization is not confined to the Badger State. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, arguably Common Core’s greatest champion, also has accused its opponents of employing conspiracy theories. And, in a recent op-ed, Michael J. Petrilli and Michael Brickman of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute characterized Common Core opponents as a “small but vocal minority of conservatives” coupled with a bit of “the far left.” Read: scary fringe types. It’s worth noting that Petrilli testified in favor of Common Core during the state’s hearings.

Of course, some Common Core opponents do say outlandish things, and in Wisconsin’s case, it doesn’t help that the John Birch Society defrayed the costs of anti-Common Core experts brought to testify. But such sideshows pale in comparison to the highly diverse group of Common Core opponents whom advocates absolutely don’t want to talk about: education experts.

It may come as a surprise to some that Common Core is opposed by scholars at several leading think tanks on both the right and left, including the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the Brookings Institution and my own Cato Institute. My research has shown there is essentially no meaningful evidence that national standards lead to superior educational outcomes.

Hoover Institution senior fellow Eric Hanushek, a well-known education economist and supporter of standards-based reform, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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