Duncan Asks Business Leaders to Support Common Core

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is meeting with business leaders to encourage them to be more vocal in their support for the adoption of the Common Core Standards, the Washington Post reports. Duncan made his appeal at the meeting with the leaders of the Chamber of Commerce after the new standards – which are set to be adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia – came under increased criticism from lawmakers and scholars in recent months.

This has led to at least a handful of states to reconsider their commitment to the adoption, which Duncan fears will launch a chain reaction. With Indiana, South Dakota, Georgia and Alabama, among others, giving the standards another look, additional states might be encouraged to likewise pull back support.

Both Republicans and Democrats have supported the initiative in the past, including the Obama administration and Republican Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, both of whom were big players in the campaign to get some 45 states and the District of Columbia to approve the standards. It is now both Republicans and Democrats who are questioning the Core, though the Republican voice is louder and more official: The Republican National Committee just passed an anti-Common Core resolution, saying that the initiative is a federal intrusion on states’ rights, and Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa just started a bid to to eliminate federal funding for the core effort.

The criticism coming from the Democratic side is not as vehement, but the reluctance to embrace the standards fully is easy to see. Lawmakers have expressed reservations about the CCS design process, saying that in some ways those drafting the standards ignored education research about how students acquire knowledge.

There’s also concern – shared by a growing number of parents – that high stakes testing aligned with the standards will not improve the quality of student progress assessment while putting unnecessary pressure on teachers, schools and families. Even education professionals who were on board with the CCS from the start have backed away in recent month as they learned more of the details.

Reversing the decision to implement the core won’t be easy and may be impossible in many places. States that have adopted the core have already spent many millions of dollars to create curriculum around them, implement them and create tests aligned to the standards. (The federal government chipped in some $360 million to help develop core-aligned tests.) Not long ago, the core looked like it was an initiative that was steam-rolling through the states, with the strong support of Education Secretary Duncan and other players in the education world, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped fund it.