Under the headline “Why voters love Common Core,” former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. writes for the Daily Beast that one of the most striking lessons from the midterm elections was “the clear message voters sent about education standards: don’t abandon them,”
Given the intense discussion around the country over Common Core Standards, one may have expected an undoing of a lot of what’s going on in states. After all, opponents of Common Core spent this past election season distorting and misrepresenting the progress going on in the classroom. But, voters, many of them parents, listened to both sides of the debate and ultimately voted for candidates who supported level-headed policy. In fact, November’s results show parents want to continue with implementation of high standards and the results they promise.
… Interestingly, some of the opponents—many of whom I believe are genuinely confused about Common Core’s development and purpose—assailed the standards as too difficult, not difficult enough, or as a federal takeover of local education. They couldn’t decide. Fortunately, on November 4 a majority of parents decided it’s hard to deny success in the classroom.
And to be sure, classrooms are seeing measurable improvements under Common Core Standards.
For example, in Tennessee—one of the earliest adopters of the Common Core Standards—college-readiness rates among high school students saw the biggest improvement this year since the state began testing. And last year, 4th and 8th grade students showed the biggest math and reading gains in the country.
“The hard work of teachers to implement higher academic standards is having an impact,” said Kevin Huffman, Tennessee’s outgoing education commissioner. “We’re starting to see the upward trend.”
Here are some more takeaways from Election Day. In only four states—Arizona, Colorado, New York and Pennsylvania—did the Common Core Standards emerge as a major issue, and in three of those races the most supportive candidates won. Twelve incumbent governors who publicly support Common Core easily won re-election. And, in the 44 states where Common Core is used, only 6 governors and 4 superintendents said they wanted to change course on Common Core.
The opponents of Common Core may be louder than supporters, but the big gains achieved by students are what counted in voters’ minds when they went to the polls. To believe the narrative advanced by Common Core opponents is easy—because they enjoy headline momentum—but simply wrong.