Trust the experts and talk to teachers

What do Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Governor “Butch” Otter, and the National Education Association have in common?  They all strongly support the new Common Core State Standards.

Once again, the education pendulum has swung, this time away from George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind (2001), and towards the corporate and career readiness standards of the Age of Information and Technology, known today in Idaho as the Idaho Core Standards.

Introduced in 2011 at the same time as the Luna education laws, the Idaho Core Standards were approved by both the Idaho Senate and House Education committees.

But this bipartisan support for improving schools hasn’t come without criticism, and the naysayers are growing.  Enter talk show host Glenn Beck, who, over the last several weeks, has claimed Common Core is part of a national conspiracy.  “This is a progressive bonanza, and if it’s allowed to be in our schools in any form and become the common core of America’s next generation, it will destroy America’s system of freedom as we know it.”

The Idaho State Department of Education maintains strong support for the Idaho Core Standards.  In an email from ISDE spokesperson Melissa McGrath, she notes that, “Both the Department and Superintendent Luna remain in full support of these higher standards.”  She continues, “We strongly believe these higher academic standards are what is best for Idaho students to make sure every child graduates from high school prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce.”

Governor Otter remains supportive of the Idaho Core Standards as well.  In an email from his spokesperson Jon Hanian:  “The Governor’s position has not changed. He still supports the Common Core State Standards.”

In a press release by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in an effort to stem the tide of a  legislative proposal in South Carolina to block implementation of the Common Core:

“The idea that the Common Core standards are nationally-imposed is a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy. The Common Core academic standards were both developed and adopted by the states, and they have widespread bipartisan support. GOP leaders like Jeb Bush and governors Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, and Bill Haslam have supported the Common Core standards because they realize states must stop dummying down academic standards.”

And the National Education Association’s President Dennis Van Roekel, representing the largest union in the country, is also cautiously supportive:  “As long as we can accept this [CCSS], and embrace the transition, educators and public education can come out ahead.”

In a surprising move April 12, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution that vehemently opposes CCSS, calling it “one size fits all,” developed by “private third parties,” and never “piloted.”  The RNC Resolution goes on to explain concerns with the use of student and teacher data, removal of educational choice, and interference by federal regulations.

The cynical side of me says to let this misinformation simmer for a while on boil as payback to Idaho’s political elite for the Luna laws.  And as much as part of me wants to do that, I will not.

But I think the misinformation campaign on the CCSS has gotten out of control.  As a teacher, I’ve read and already begun implementing the Idaho Core Standards, as have a majority of teachers across this state.  In preparation for the 2014-15 school year, when students and teachers will be entirely accountable to Idaho Core Standards, I find them to be challenging and worthwhile for my students.  Ask Idaho teachers what they think about the Idaho Core Standards.  Trust the experts.


Travis Manning

Travis Manning is Executive Director of the Common Sense Democracy Foundation of Idaho. He is a high school English teacher, parent of three children and Scoutmaster.

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