Arne Duncan slowly backing away from Common Core

Robby Soave Reporter
Font Size:

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has always been a strong supporter of the Common Core Standards — like his boss, President Barack Obama — but he is now beginning to distance himself from a reform that has earned considerable animosity from teachers, parents, students and activists.

Earlier this week, Duncan testified before a U.S. House of Representatives appropriations committee that he is in favor of education standards in general, rather than the specific tenets of Common Core. (RELATED: Common Core gets AWFUL review in new study)

“Just to be very clear with this group, I’m just a big proponent of high standards,” he said, according to Education Week. “Whether they’re common or not is secondary.”

This is a significant step backward for Duncan, who said just last June that the Common Core standards were possibly the best thing to happen to education reform since Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that mandated desegregation. (RELATED: Watch Colbert’s hilarious takedown of absurd Common Core math problems)

“I believe the Common Core State Standards may prove to be the single greatest thing to happen to public education in America since Brown versus Board of Education—and the federal government had nothing to do with creating them,” he said in a statement, according to the Department of Education’s website.

He also famously blamed “white suburban moms” for giving Common Core a bad name. (RELATED: Arne Duncan blames irrational angst of ‘white suburban moms’ for Common Core pushback)

Duncan also insisted that federal grants were not being issued to Core-compliant states in order to coerce others to adopt the standards. (RELATED: Kids take Common Core tests with ‘inappropriate content, ambiguous questions’)

While his answer is technically correct, the Race to the Top program — which awarded billions in federal grants to the states — made Common Core a high priority for grant eligibility. Non-compliant states had low chances of winning the contest.

Common Core was developed by the National Governors Association, and is supported by the Obama administration and many Republican governors. Most states signed on to the standards but some of them increasingly look like they might jump ship. Indiana recently became the first. (RELATED: Is this week the beginning of the end for Common Core?)

Follow Robby on Twitter