New education standards face a rising tide of criticism

NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICEMay 30, 2014 

Opposition to the Common Core, a set of reading and math standards for elementary, middle and high school students that were originally adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia, has gathered momentum among state lawmakers in recent weeks.

The governors of Oklahoma and South Carolina are considering signing bills to repeal the standards and replace them with locally written versions. In Missouri, lawmakers passed a bill that would require a committee of state educators to come up with new standards within the next two years.

Although the Common Core, developed by a coalition convened by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, was initially backed by a group of Republican governors, the Obama administration also lent its support. For the past year, conservative Republicans, seizing on the administration's backing, have argued that the standards amount to a federal takeover of public schools.

Jason Nelson, a Republican state representative from northwest Oklahoma who sponsored the bill to withdraw the state from the Common Core, said he and his colleagues wanted to "break any kind of nexus where any private organization or the federal government would exert control over our standards."

The pushback from the right has been fueled by an unlikely alliance with critics on the left, who are upset by new standardized tests and the high stakes associated with them, including teacher performance reviews.

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