On Fox News this past Sunday Chris Wallace hosted a fierce debate over the Common Core. Surprisingly, both sides of the debate were represented by conservatives. The anti-Common Core side was represented by Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) and the pro-Common Core side was represented by former Reagan Secretary of Education Bill Bennett.
Bill Bennett: Yes, they’re all wrong. Because — but it’s understandable why they’re wrong. Common core has been vilified because there’s been tremendous amount of misinformation about common core that it requires teaching of Islamic radicalism, you have to read all of Barack Obama’s speeches. It’s a code of political correctness. A whole mythology is built up around common core.
Common core are state standards for math and reading by grade. That’s all they are. Anybody who questions what they should read what the standards say. and they say such tendentious things as kids should focus on arithmetic in the early grades, learn how to count, multiply, divide and subtract. And in reading they should emphasize phonics, the meaning of words and good, clear expression.
Wallace: Governor Abbott, I mean there’s another myth about this, contrary to wide-spread public belief this program wasn’t started in Washington, in fact, it was started by the nation’s governors and by the nation’s state education chiefs. So, why this thought that this is a federal takeover of education?
Governor Abbott: Well, two things, Chris. One is we have seen buyer’s remorse by the governors and states that bought into it to begin with. And they bought into it at a time before its implementation began. What we have seen after its implementation is now the federal government is tying billions of dollars to whether or not states comply with what is becoming a national standard. And so what we’re dealing with is a one-size-fit-all national standard being pushed down from the top, from the Obama administration and that is why suddenly we’ve seen so many parents, so many states, so many school districts reject it so harshly.
Make sure you watch the entire debate because it’s really instructive of the two current schools of conservative thought on the Common Core. I tend to side with Abbott on the issue, though I don’t think he was great at conveying why. When it comes to education, local control is always best. ALWAYS.