If there remains any doubt about the momentum of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, let it be abandoned once and for all. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia, which collectively educate three-fourths of all school-age children in this country, have pledged to adopt the core. Intellectual gatekeepers have given the standards a resounding pass. Plans for implementation have begun. For better or worse, the boulder is on its way down the mountain, gathering strength and speed as it goes.
The argument over the standards, however, continues to rage. The common core, proponents claim, will ensure that all schools have a skills-rich and intellectually rigorous curriculum. It will increase the transparency and coherence of the public education system, enabling cross-state comparisons and collaborations. By way of rejoinder, opponents point to the homogeneity that the core imposes on schools. A shared curriculum, they argue, denies the opportunity for culturally responsive teaching and ignores the diversity of experiences, skills, and goals that students bring to their classrooms. As Providence, R.I.-based school reformer Dennis Littky asks, “Who wants a standardized kid, anyway?”