Business buys into the common core

Maybe it’s because schools are now taking a hard look at them, maybe it’s because the countdown to common core test day looms large, but it feels like the common core standards just can’t get any love anymore. In a strange alliance of purpose, critics from both the right  and the left  are calling on states and educators to reject them, albeit, for different reasons.

Much of the criticism rests on the politics. Even though the nation’s governors and state school superintendents led the development of the CCSS, some see a heavy federal hand in getting states to adopt them through provisions in Race to the Top and NCLB waivers that ask states to have “college and career-ready” standards.  But other voices are criticizing the content of the standards themselves as either too weak or too narrow, as we have written here and here.

This week, a coalition of 72 business leaders, representing such major corporations as GE, Exxon Mobil, and State Farm, provided a counterbalance by offering their considerable voice in support of the common core. In a full-page New York Times ad (by way of Change the Equation,which boasts 42 signatories), the CEOs endorsed the standards as “meet[ing] the business community’s expectations: they are college- and career-ready, grounded in evidence and internationally benchmarked. The CCSS set consistent, focused, rigorous academic expectations for all students.”

They conclude:

We support these new, tougher academic standards that are currently being rolled out in classrooms across the country. These standards will better prepare students for college and the workplace, something of critical importance to the nation’s employers. The changes now under way in America’s schools hold great promise for creating a more highly skilled workforce that is better equipped to meet the needs of local, state and national economies.

We see a lot to admire in the content of the CCSS as well as in the state-driven process that produced them. But the proof will be in the implementation, and the capacity of school districts to provide the support and resources teachers will need to teach them. So stay tuned.

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