Debate Club

Are the Common Core Standards a Good Idea?

Are the Common Core Standards a Good Idea?

45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards for their public schools, a set of common curriculum guidelines promoted by the National Governors Association and the Obama administration, among others. The standards, which are for math and language arts, are meant to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.” The Department of Education gave significant weight to adoption of Common Core when providing grants under the federal Race to the Top program.

[SPECIAL REPORT: A Guide to Common Core]

The standards were released in 2010, but have become controversial in recent weeks as states have moved into the implementation process. As U.S. News’ Allie Bidwell explained, several states have even advanced measures through their state legislatures to halt or repeal the standards.

Indiana has gone the furthest down this road, adopting a law that stops implementation of the standards entirely until further review.  "This voids Common Core, and we are starting the process of writing new standards," said state Sen. Scott Schneider, the author of Indiana’s law. "We are moving forward, moving away from Common Core, protecting Indiana sovereignty and student data."

Conservatives have expressed dismay about the standards, contending that they usurp state responsibility for education. At the federal level, Republicans in Congress have introduced resolutions making their discontent with the standards known. But it’s not only those on the right upset with Common Core.

Last week, the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union and, until this point, an ally of the Common Core movement, said that the rollout of the standards has been “completely botched.” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has called for a three-year moratorium on sanctions tied to Common Core testing, saying, "You see if the whole shebang works, before you say it’s ready for prime time. … But that’s not what’s happening.”

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, has also called for a delay in basing teacher evaluations on Common Core tests. "It's apparent that we're trying to do a lot of things at once and that becomes difficult because people are stressed," Malloy said.

But the standards still have their staunch defenders. “Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core standards,” Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, said. “We’re excited about it. We’re implementing it. ... We are already noticing a very positive effect of implementing those standards. So we’re going to be charging ahead.”

So are Common Core standards a good idea? Here is the Debate Club’s take:


The Arguments

#1
158 Pts
Attempts to Standardize Education Are Doomed to Fail

No – Attempts to Standardize Education Are Doomed to Fail

Matt Kibbe is the President of FreedomWorks.

#2
120 Pts
Common Core Causes Collateral Damage

No – Common Core Causes Collateral Damage

Mike McShane is a research fellow in education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

#3
109 Pts
Common Core Treats Students Like Soulless Widgets

No – Common Core Treats Students Like Soulless Widgets

Neal McCluskey is the associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.

#4
-75 Pts
Common Core's Intent Is Being Undermined

Yes – Common Core's Intent Is Being Undermined

Charles Barone  is policy director of Democrats for Education Reform.

#5
-89 Pts
Adult Problems Aren't More Important Than Student Needs

Yes – Adult Problems Aren't More Important Than Student Needs

Michelle Rhee is CEO at StudentsFirst and former chancellor of D.C. Public Schools.

#6
-112 Pts
Keep the Core, but Course Correct to Achieve Its Promise

Yes – Keep the Core, but Course Correct to Achieve Its Promise

Dennis Van Roekel is president of the National Education Association.

#7
-144 Pts
Give Common Core Time to Work

Yes – Give Common Core Time to Work

Jack Markell is in his second term as Governor of Delaware and served as co-chair of the Common Core State Standards initiative.


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