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Chamber of Commerce Ratchets Up Support for Common Core

“Politics and misinformed arguments shouldn’t get in the way of helping our kids, businesses and country succeed.”

Sen. Angela Burks Hill calls for the legislature to end Mississippi's participation in Common Core, the State Standards Initiative that established a single set of educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics, at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. Opponents of Common Core hope to convince legislators into ending the initiative. Lawmakers return to the Capitol Tuesday for a three-month session this year. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue cranked up the business lobby's support for the Common Core State Standards Initiative for schools, insisting that it is entirely state-driven.

An anti-Common Core rally in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

“Common Core is not a curriculum, a federal program or a federal mandate,” Donohue said in an op-ed published in The Washington Post. “It was created at the state level. Curriculum remains within the control of districts, school boards, school leaders and teachers.”

Donohue's letter was in response to a George Will column criticizing Common Core.

“Mr. Will and others should direct their outrage at school systems that tolerate low standards and churn out kids ill-prepared for college or a career,” Donohue wrote. “Politics and misinformed arguments shouldn’t get in the way of helping our kids, businesses and country succeed.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been a strong proponent of the controversial education K-12 standards adopted by 45 states for English and math. The system was developed and supported by teacher unions and the National Governors Association, and supported by the Obama administration's Department of Education as part of the “Race to the Top” education framework. The chamber even solicits people to sign a Common Core pledge.

The U.S. Chamber is frequently characterized as conservative because it represents the business community and publicly advocates free enterprise. But the group has also openly advocated government interjection, such as the TARP bailout, when helpful to certain businesses.

Common Core critics such as Will and other conservatives are concerned that because most states adopted the standards based on the promise of federal funds and waivers from No Child Left Behind requirements, it is tantamount to a backdoor federal curriculum.

“The Common Core represents the ideas of several national organizations (of governors and school officials) about what and how children should learn,” Will wrote in the column last week that prompted the Chamber response.

“Hence they say it is a 'state-led,' 'voluntary' initiative to merely guide education with 'standards' that are neither written nor approved nor mandated by Washington, which would never, ever 'prescribe' a national curriculum,” Will later wrote. He continued: “The Obama administration has purchased states’ obedience by partially conditioning waivers from onerous federal regulations (from No Child Left Behind) and receipt of federal largess ($4.35 billion in Race to the Top money from the 2009 stimulus) on the states’ embrace of the Common Core.”

He further warned that opposition is increasing, saying, “Although 45 states and the District of Columbia have struck this bargain, most with little debate, some are reconsidering and more will do so as opposition mounts.”

(H/T: The Foundry)

Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter

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