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Will Fight Against Common Core Encourage Charters, Vouchers?

Critics of the Common Core span the political and ideological spectrum. So do supporters.

Many who consider themselves liberals oppose the imposition of grade-by-grade standards that are inflexible and take away teachers’ ability to tailor instruction to the needs of their students. Early childhood advocates are critical of CC’s demand to force academic instruction into the earliest grades. Many object on principle to the absence of any transparency in the development or adoption of the standards.

Now the right is mobilizing to fight Common Core and brands the standards as a federal takeover. It will use the Common Core as a reason to fight for school choice, the far right agenda of charters and vouchers.

The irony is that some of the major stalwarts of the rightwing are advocates for Common Core, including Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and various far-right governors.

The US Department of Education thought it pulled a fast one by using money from the Gates Foundation to develop the standards, then used the lure of Race to the Top to get 45 states to adopt Common Core, in some cases sight unseen.

But the absence of democratic process and transparency has poisoned the well. Tricking the public is not a good move in a democracy. It sows suspicion and distrust.

Common Core is the most controversial issue in education today, and the pitched battles in every state are indicative of the Obama administration’s failed plan to create national standards by stealth. If Politico’s article is right, Common Core could be a potent weapon to undermine public education, destroy unions, and promote charters and vouchers.

If this was the goal of the Obama administration and the Gates Foundation, it’s working–and it’s tragic.

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Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch is a historian of education at New York University. Her most recent book is Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools.  Her previous books and articles about American education include: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform, (Simon & Schuster, 2000); The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (Knopf, 2003); The English Reader: What Every Literate Person Needs to Know (Oxford, 2006), which she edited with her son Michael Ravitch. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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