Letter: Common Core more entwined than Gill says

James Gill uses sarcasm entertainingly in panning Gov. Bobby Jindal’s transition from a gung-ho supporter of Common Core to a half-hearted opponent. (“Jindal against Common Core — well, sort of”). Fair enough. But Jindal at least is listening respectfully to the legitimate concerns of parents and teachers in contrast with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has treated opponents of national standardization with haughty contempt.

Viewed hopefully, Gill was still in a playful mood when he observed that Common Core provides only benchmarks for learning and leaves local and state school boards with total control over teaching materials and textbooks. In fact, a huge conglomerate has sprung up, aided by federal and foundation money, to ensure that schools have software and textbooks that are entirely “Common Core-aligned.”

Indeed, Achieve Inc., the corporatist nonprofit that was the key power behind the writing of Common Core in 2009, has developed a system called EQuIP that rates how well curricular materials align with the national standards. Educators from across the country recently brought teaching materials to D.C. to be Common Core-rated.

Student Achievement Partners, whose officers led the actual writing of Common Core, have produced a similar gauge. Moreover, one of their former officers and author of the Common Core English standards, David Coleman, is now busily aligning the SAT with Common Core in his new job as president of the College Board.

So it is all wired together more tightly than James Gill knows or lets on. And it is no stretch to think the U.S. Education Department — following its own recent precedent with grant money and waivers — could require proof of textbook alignment with Common Core as a condition for receipt of federal aid.

Robert Holland

senior fellow for education policy The Heartland Institute

Chicago