George Will’s opinion on Common Core (and why it matters)

In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, George Will surveys the political landscape in opposition to Common Core and sees some “healthy aspects of today’s politics.”

“The rise of opposition to the Common Core illustrates three healthy aspects of today’s politics. First, new communication skills and technologies enable energized minorities to force new topics onto the political agenda. Second, this uprising of local communities against state capitals, the nation’s capital and various muscular organizations (e.g., the Business Roundtable, the Chamber of Commerce, teachers unions, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) demonstrates that although the public agenda is malleable, a sturdy portion of the public is not.

Third, political dishonesty has swift, radiating and condign consequences. Opposition to the Common Core is surging because Washington, hoping to mollify opponents, is saying, in effect: “If you like your local control of education, you can keep it. Period.” To which a burgeoning movement is responding: “No. Period.””

Andy Smarick, a partner at the Bellwether Education Partners, explains why Will’s opinion matters.   After firmly establishing Will’s political credibility, Smarick identifies three notable strands in Will’s argument, 

Will’s Common Core criticism is not of the black-helicopter variety; it flows from these principles, and he articulates his argument compellingly. Three strands are worth noting.

First, the move to common standards has all the hallmarks of the first lunge of federal overreach—in his words, the “thin end of an enormous wedge.”…

Second, national commonality is not all roses; there are steep costs associated with “advanc(ing)…centralization and uniformity.”…Those inclined to think concerns about a massive federal bureaucratic mishap are so much handwringing might consider the saga of

Third, while there are undoubtedly many Common Core defenders who argue the facts forthrightly and humbly, including Mike Petrilli and Kathleen Porter-Magee, entirely too many others have been insulting to opponents. In Will’s words, “Proponents seem to deem it beneath their dignity to engage opponents’ arguments, preferring to caricature opponents as political primitives and to dismiss them with flippancies.”…

Smarick concludes,

George Will’s column isn’t the real story here. It’s what the column represents: the quiet but growing and hardening principled opposition to Common Core.

Indeed, opposition to Common Core is growing.  Will’s words should be a wake up call to every politician who thinks they can dismiss the opposition as the lunatic fringe.  We’re not.  We’re hard-working parents and taxpayers who do not like Lansing or DC viewing our children as “common” and telling us what is best for them.