Opponents Would Like You to Believe the Common Core Was Written behind Closed Doors. The Facts Paint a Very Different Picture

The Common Core State Standards were developed by educators and experts from 49 states and territories under the leadership of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Once completed, the standards were made available for public review and input and put through multiple drafts. They were then certified by an independent validation committee, and only then voluntarily adopted by states.

Still, some opponents continue to insist that the Common Core was developed under a veil of secrecy. “Deliberations took place behind closed doors,” claims Lance Izumi in the Washington Examiner. “Common Core was the brainchild of political, education and business elites—and continues to benefit them.”

Similar claims have become a talking point among opponents, playing into the false narrative that Common Core State Standards were forced on states. Fueled by a lack of public awareness, this misperception has taken root. But no matter how often critics repeat it, it doesn’t make it true.

In fact, development of the Common Core State Standards occurred free of any federal involvement. No federal officials served on the working teams or feedback groups, nor were any federal funds used to support the creation process at any point.

Objective analyses have repeatedly rejected claims that the federal government coerced states into adopting the Common Core. In 2013, PolitiFact gave a “Pants on Fire” rating to allegations Common Core is a federal tool to instill religious or political ideology. “We found nothing… to suggest that the federal government is telling students what political or religious beliefs they should hold,” the analysis concludes.

Another PolitiFact analysis gave a “False” rating to the claim that teachers were left out of the development of the Common Core. The drafting process relied on teachers, the fact-check notes, and “there’s plenty of evidence to back that claim. Just ask the participants.”

Fortunately, most state and local leaders have seen past such wild accusations and redoubled their commitment to rigorous, comparable education standards. This year, zero states have passed full-scale repeal, marking the second consecutive year in which state legislatures have voted down or failed to move forward such legislation.

“Six years in, the debate over high, comparable standards has subsided. Predictions of widespread repeal have failed to materialize,” Jim Cowen wrote this spring. “If there were any question remaining, it seems to be firmly resolved: states are sticking with higher standards based on the Common Core.”

Further discrediting accusations like Izumi’s, states continue to take ownership of the Common Core, reviewing and building on the standards, exactly as designed. Common Core State Standards “are a floor, not a ceiling,” Karen Nussle explained. “And they were absolutely designed to allow states to tweak, amend, and generally customize them in order to meet local needs.”

Furthermore, the Every Student Succeeds Act prohibits the federal government from interfering in states’ decisions over education standards and accountability systems. Calling the law a “huge win for conservatives,” Congressman John Kline explained: “If states want to use Common Core, it is not the place of the federal government to tell them they cannot do that.”