Common Core Critics Suddenly Discover a Passion for High Standards

October 4, 2013

For many who want to defeat Common Core State Standards, high academic expectations are apparently the new black.

The Pioneer Institute just released yet another paper claiming that Common Core sets a low bar in math. The paper’s authors, Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, passionately believe that every American student should have to pass pre-calculus at least to graduate from high school and be ready for admission to a “selective” 4-year college. Legions of Common Core critics whose grasp on mathematics is, shall we say, looser than Migram's or Stotsky's are using their arguments to claim that Common Core is dumbing down math in this country.

So let’s get this straight: Common Core is lowering standards, because it won’t prepare every U.S. student to succeed at Harvard?

Apparently, the fact that the Common Core is much more rigorous than most states' previous standards does little to impress folks at the Pioneer Institute. Common Core assumes that every student will take four years of math, including at least algebra 2. Meanwhile, current graduation requirements in all but 11 states are much lower than that. In fact, some states have been going backwards despite Common Core. Texas recently dropped algebra 2 from its requirements, and Florida quickly followed suit.

So here are some questions for all those Common Core critics who have suddenly conceived a passion for high standards—calculus, even! Where were you during all those years when so many states embraced vague or squishy standards? Where were you when most states declared students “proficient” for getting low scores on state tests? Where were you when Texas—which the critics have praised for rejecting Common Core—dramatically rolled back its graduation requirements in math? And where will you be if states abandon Common Core and slide back into mediocrity?  Will you all rally around the goal of algebra 2 for all students, much less pre-calculus or calculus?

Fat chance.

Tags: Common Core, math, standards