Candidates Exchange Barbs over Common Core State Standards

After receiving only a single question and a passing mention through the last five Republican debates, it wasn’t surprising Common Core State Standards came up in last night’s debate. Nor was it altogether surprising the candidates discussing the issue reiterated mischaracterizations that opponents have used to derail honest debate.

Speaking about his recent criticism of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Marco Rubio said, “We cannot afford to have a President of the United States that supports the Common Core.” Gov. Christie responded, “Common Core has been eliminated in New Jersey.”

Common Core State Standards were created by educators and experts from across the country; they were voluntarily adopted by states; and states continue to lead implementation, refining and building on the standards—exactly as they were designed.

Who holds the nation’s highest office should have no bearing on whether states are able to continue to implement the Common Core. And Congress took a meaningful step to ensure state and local leaders are free to make that determination by passing the Every Student Succeeds Act, which – once and for all – clarifies that the federal government should not and does not have control over states’ education standards.

Last month, when asked whether the Every Student Succeeds Act should put to rest concerns about federal involvement in the Common Core, Congressman John Kline, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, called the law a “huge win for conservatives.”

“That’s exactly correct,” Rep. Kline added. “The federal government should not be able to tell states what standards they can or cannot adopt. If states want to use Common Core, it is not the place of the federal government to tell them they cannot do that.”

And states are making that decision. Across the country, many states—including New Jersey—are reviewing their Common Core State Standards, making changes and building on them to ensure they meet students’ needs.

In New Jersey, the review launched by Gov. Christie last year resulted in marginal changes to improve the state’s Common Core Standards. In fact, the review committee recommended keeping 85 percent of the current standards, and most changes were intended only to clarify or reorder the standards.

Instead of the mass exodus away from the Common Core opponents predicted, states have weighed the evidence and overwhelmingly are sticking with the Common Core. While the term “Common Core” may still rally a small group of activists, Common Core State Standards are here to stay.