New Jersey Hasn’t Abandoned the Common Core, and Students Aren’t Losing Their Minds

New Jersey has abandoned the Common Core, an article by the Heartland Institute heralds (even though it later acknowledges changes to the state’s standards retain about 84 percent of the Common Core).

In fact, New Jersey, like most states across the country that adopted Common Core, opted to review, refine and build on its academic standards. “We were not looking to develop a whole new set of standards, but rather to improve on what we had,” Kimberly Harrington, New Jersey’s chief academic officer, explained of the review process earlier this year.

Mark Biedron, president of the New Jersey Board of Education, reiterated that the review process was not meant to replace the Common Core. “We looked at something that was really good, and we made it New Jersey’s,” he explained. “Yes, there were some changes, but there were not major changes.”

Like New Jersey, most states have taken the pragmatic approach of reviewing and building on the Common Core. This year lawmakers in no fewer than eight states voted down or failed to move forward legislation to replace the Common Core or to replace assessments aligned to the Common Core.

In a recent memo, Jim Cowen explains that states have overwhelmingly opted to build on the Common Core framework because of the impossible task of producing better learning goals, a lack of any kind of evidence the standards are defective, and the fact that states are providing better information to parents and teachers.

Not surprisingly, some opponents have doubled down on baseless claims in an effort to disrupt states’ progress. Such attacks, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett says, “have dominated the ‘debate’ and the real issues have been obscured…[But] the issue of honest standards of learning for our children is too important to be buried in an avalanche of misinformation and demonization.”

The Heartland article suggests Common Core State Standards “monitor and adjust student behavior.” “[Common Core] taps into a student’s ability to think, [causing] kids to have meltdowns and succumb to unnecessary stress,” alleges Michael Bohr, founder of the Committee to Combat Common Core in New Jersey.

However, objective analysis has repeatedly rejected claims that the Common Core is an attempt to control students’ thinking or indoctrinate them with particular ideology.

A PolitiFact analysis gave a “Pants on Fire” rating to claims the Common Core State Standards seek to instill religious or political beliefs. The standards’ goal is “to better prepare students for college and careers,” the analysis notes. “That’s a far cry from attempting to instill particular religious or political beliefs.”

PolitiFact also rated as “False” the claim made by Donald Trump that Common Core State Standards are “education through Washington, D.C.” “The education standards… were unveiled in 2010 after state school officials, nonprofits, teachers, parents and experts settled on broad education goals,” the analysis states. “Washington was not a player in that game.”

Spin as they might, opponents are faced with the reality states are overwhelmingly sticking with the Common Core, reviewing and refining the standards—exactly as they were designed. And as a result, parents and teachers are receiving better information about their children’s progress towards college and career readiness.