Education

Some State Rebrand Controversial Common Core

January 31, 2014

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) used an executive order to strip the name “Common Core” from the state’s new math and reading standards for public schools. In the Hawkeye State, the same standards are now called “The Iowa Core.” And in Florida, lawmakers want to delete “Common Core” from official documents and replace it with the cheerier-sounding “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.”

In the face of growing opposition to the Common Core State Standards — a set of K-12 educational guidelines adopted by most of the country — officials in a handful of states are worried that the brand is already tainted. They’re keeping the standards but slapping on fresh names they hope will have greater public appeal.

At a recent meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers, one of the organizations that helped create the standards, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) urged state education leaders to ditch the “Common Core” name, noting that it had become “toxic.”

“Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat,” said Huckabee, now the host of a Fox News talk show and a supporter of the standards.

The changes are largely superficial, giving new labels to national standards that are taking hold in classrooms across the country. But the desire to market them differently shows how precarious the push for the Common Core has grown, even though the standards were established by state officials with bipartisan support and quickly earned widespread approval, including the endorsement of the Obama administration.

Supporters say the standards emphasize critical thinking and analytical skills, as opposed to rote learning, and will enable American students to better compete in the global marketplace.

But the wholesale changes in K-12 education that have come with the standards have provoked a raft of critics. Opponents include tea party activists who say the Common Core standards amount to a federal takeover of local education and progressives who bristle at the emphasis on testing and the role of the Gates Foundation, which has funded the development and promotion of the standards. Some academics say the math and reading standards are too weak; others say they are too demanding, particularly for young students.

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