Common Core on Trial


A new round in the ongoing battle over implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Michigan ensued today, with testimony from the Ottawa Area ISD and a classroom teacher in the district of Kentwood. 

Troy Vanderlaan, a teacher of U.S. History at East Kentwood Freshman Campus, argued that the CCSS “teaches our students a relevant application of the skills needed to be leaders in our global market.” Vanderlaan presented evidence of CCSS-based curriculum improving student achievement at a school he helped create.

Political opposition to the CCSS has been increasing with the rise of groups like Stop Common Core in Michigan, whose members claim that the effort to implement the standards is an attempt at “progressive indoctrination.” The cause has become a hobbyhorse among those on the political right who look to block federal involvement in the educational sphere. 

The politicization of the argument was likely inevitable, but it unfortunately diminishes opportunities for substantive discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of the standards. I’ve yet to hear one valid point made against raising standards in poorly performing states (I’m looking at you Louisiana). Though the transition will be a costly one, a reexamination of the proportion of government dollars that go to education is a long overdue one. 

However, states like Massachusetts have genuine concern over whether implementing CCSS will effectively lower the bar for their already high-performing schools.

From a general interest perspective, I suggest reading this 2012 profile of David Coleman, the architect of the CCSS. It will certainly provide some insight on how his personal beliefs and experiences have helped shape the standards.


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