Embrace The Common Core

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

In K-12 education, there is nothing more controversial than the Common Core State Standards, national academic standards in English and math. Adopted by more than 40 states, they were developed, in part, to address concerns that American students were falling behind their foreign counterparts and graduating high school without the necessary skills for college and the workforce. But is this the reform we’ve been looking for? Has the federal government overreached and saddled our schools with standards that have been flawed from the start? Or will the Common Core raise the bar and improve the quality of our children’s education?

  • Martin Headshot 90x90


    Carmel Martin

    Exec. VP, Center for American Progress & Fmr. Assistant Secretary of Education

  • Petrilli-90


    Michael Petrilli

    President, Fordham Institute & Co-Editor, Knowledge at the Core

  • Burris Headshot 90x90


    Carol Burris

    Principal, South Side High School & Blogger, Washington Post’s “Answersheet”

  • Hess Headshot 90x90


    Frederick Hess

    Resident Scholar and Director of Educational Policy Studies, AEI

    • Moderator Image


      John Donvan

      Author & Correspondent for ABC News

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Against The Motion

Carol Burris

Principal, South Side High School & Blogger, Washington Post’s “Answersheet”

Carol Burris, Ed.D. has been the principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, New York since 2000. She was named the 2013 NASSP New York High School Principal of the Year and the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the New York State School Administrators Association. In addition to leading her diverse suburban high school which is renowned for giving all students challenging curricula, Burris has authored or co-authored three books as well as numerous journal articles on equity and excellence in schools. She is a staunch advocate of school and classroom desegregation. At the same time, she is an outspoken opponent of many of the Race to the Top reforms, including the Common Core. Burris frequently blogs on Valerie Strauss’s “Answersheet,” which appears in the Washington Post.

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Against The Motion

Frederick Hess

Resident Scholar and Director of Educational Policy Studies, AEI

An educator, political scientist and author, Frederick M. Hess studies K-12 and higher education issues. His books include Cage-Busting Leadership, Education Unbound, and Common Sense School Reform. He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog, "Rick Hess Straight Up." Hess's work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Post, The Atlantic and National Review. He has edited widely cited volumes on the Common Core, the role of for-profits in education, education philanthropy, school costs and productivity, the impact of education research, and No Child Left Behind. A former high school teacher, Hess currently teaches at Rice University and the University of Pennsylvania and serves as executive editor for the influential education journal Education Next.

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For The Motion

Carmel Martin

Exec. VP, Center for American Progress & Fmr. Assistant Secretary of Education

Carmel Martin is the executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress. She manages policy across issue areas and is a key member of the executive team. Before joining American Progress, Martin was the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at the Department of Education. In this position, she led the department’s policy and budget development activities and served as a senior advisor to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Prior to coming to the Department of Education, Martin served as general counsel and deputy staff director for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. She also previously worked at American Progress as the associate director for domestic policy, and in the Senate as chief counsel and senior policy adviser to former Sen. Jeff Bingaman and special counsel to former Sen. Tom Daschle.

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For The Motion

Michael Petrilli

President, Fordham Institute & Co-Editor, Knowledge at the Core

Mike Petrilli is an award-winning writer and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, one of the country’s most influential education-policy think tanks. He is the author of The Diverse Schools Dilemma and co-editor of Knowledge at the Core: Don Hirsch, Core Knowledge, and the Future of the Common Core. Petrilli is also a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and executive editor of Education Next. Petrilli has published opinion pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg View, and Wall Street Journal and has been a guest on NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, CNN, and Fox, as well as several National Public Radio programs. Petrilli helped to create the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, the Policy Innovators in Education Network, and Young Education Professionals.

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Declared Winner: For The Motion

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Voting Breakdown:

54% voted the same way in BOTH pre- and post-debate votes (41% voted FOR twice, 9% voted AGAINST twice, 3% voted UNDECIDED twice). 46% changed their minds (6% voted FOR then changed to AGAINST, 2% voted FOR then changed to UNDECIDED, 3% voted AGAINST then changed to FOR, 1% voted AGAINST then changed to UNDECIDED, 23% voted UNDECIDED then changed to FOR, 12% voted UNDECIDED then changed to AGAINST) | Breakdown Graphic

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    • Comment Link Fourth Grade Teacher Friday, 07 August 2015 10:17 posted by Fourth Grade Teacher

      As a fourth grade teacher who LOVES the Common Core, I couldn't resist setting the record straight about one thing:

      Common Core does NOT call for standardized testing. The Common Core is only a curriculum--or what needs to be taught.

      Before forming a strong opinion, I suggest reading over the standards. They are very minimal, as the idea was to give teachers the freedom to meet the needs of their students.

      Be sure to distinguish between what is and is not a part of the Common Core. Otherwise, we will continue to run into the same problems with any new curriculum we adopt.

    • Comment Link Sherry Tuesday, 14 April 2015 10:06 posted by Sherry

      It is interesting that of the 20 or so comments I have read, no one admits to changing their mind. How could so many watch the whole debate and yet not glean a new insight that strengthens or weakens their beliefs about Common Core? Obviously most posters did not watch the video and their statements appear to be based on political ideology plus some conspiracy theories. I watched the entire video and my take away was that while I remain pro- Common Core I have much bigger reservations about it and in particular I worry that it is not developmentally appropriate for the youngest students (grade 3 and younger). All the panelists agreed that CC can be and will be modified and improved so fundamentally I still think it is on the right track and should be embraced. I hope future posters will actually watch the video before they comment..

    • Comment Link donny Wednesday, 18 March 2015 19:55 posted by donny

      Anita Hoge exposes in great detail the hidden agenda of the common core. It's part of a national effort to give each child in the country a unique ID, collect psychometric and biometric data on them (all of which are available to third parties including corporations that can use it for market research), and "reeducate" those who don't comply with common core standards of attitudes, values, opinions and beliefs.

      We need her to testify in Washington. Her research can be found at freedomoutpost.com

    • Comment Link Eric Rasmussen Wednesday, 03 December 2014 16:35 posted by Eric Rasmussen

      Common Core is silly. Anyone who has a young child or who is an elementary teacher will tell you about the negative effect Common Core has had. A bunch of supporters of Common Core do not have children and do not interact with teachers of young children on a daily basis.

      The new decomposition of numeric concepts at a kindergarten level is ridiculous; EVERY child at my school says they hate math. This is the effect, and it will be disastrous for our future.

      I don't care one bit about high school Common Core relevance. If you convince a young child that math is hard and frustrating, they will learn to fear math and avoid it. Common Core needed to START at kindergarten and then work up toward high school, basing the instruction on developmentally appropriate methods.

    • Comment Link David Chittenden Friday, 28 November 2014 13:40 posted by David Chittenden

      The implementation of the tests is crucial. I was hired to write, for $6 a question, questions in 5-6 grade science a company selling these tests to a government entity, Though I had taught only college science, I thought my questions were pretty good for the starting level, and for the short time I devoted to each for that wage.. But the employer had no one on their staff capable of testing or judging these questions; they were just a sales organization - saying to the state: "We are a professional organization. Trust us."

      Perhaps in cases of severe incompetency, that was not true. I received a second task of revising some questions on chemistry. They were extremely badly written - so that more than one or less than one of the multiple choice answers were correct. I think a poor chemistry teacher had thrown together some ill considered test question from his past, rather than make up some new questions really pertinent to the need.

      Conclude that companies will exploit both the employee and the customer unless the state or federal government has good quality control measures in place. They will feel that extra expense is unneeded.

    • Comment Link Evangeline Ray Tuesday, 18 November 2014 20:45 posted by Evangeline Ray

      Many of the arguments for the Common Core sounded a lot like the buyer of a used car saying, well, gee, I've spent so much money on it already - I can't throw it out now. Carol Burris's comments were spot on: too many elements of the Common Core are not developmentally appropriate. I loved her observation that children don't grow from high school graduates back to kindergarten, so what kind of sense does it make to start with where you want kids to end up and then work your way backward? It's admirable - and sensible - to have an end goal, but you can't design a program without taking into account a child's development along the way.

    • Comment Link Andrew Caudell Thursday, 13 November 2014 21:55 posted by Andrew Caudell

      I never took a higher level of math in highschool than basic algebra and basic geometry. I graduated in 2003, and a LOT of my contemporaries who DID take those higher levels of math, like trigonometry and calculus, today (11 years later) absolutely suck at math. They can't even figure out basic geometric figures like the area of a triangle or the circumference of a cylinder with a known diameter. This may sound ridiculous, but I work at an aircraft manufacturing plant and have to wrap Kevlar around aluminum mandrels, and many of my coworkers cannot figure out how much material they need from the plycutter without hunting down a tape measure and wrapping it around the mandrel. We even have a calculator right at the workstation, it isn't hard to multiply the known diameter of the mandrel (it's stamped right on the end) by 3.14 and adding an inch for your ply overlap, but these guys will waste time hunting down a tape measure to get that circumference. It's not about the kind of math you learn, it's how you learn it and how you are taught to apply it that matters.

    • Comment Link Catherine Martinez Sunday, 26 October 2014 22:14 posted by Catherine Martinez

      The group arguing for the Common Core used some very obvious falsehoods to support their position plus some questionable assertions: e.g. Most special needs teachers embrace CCSS. They said that CCSS are not set in stone, but in reality they are copyrighted and so cannot be easily altered. The pair against the CCSS mentioned the standards created in Massachusetts. I have also wondered why they could not have used the standards created in Florida, which were created by teachers and vetted in the classroom.

    • Comment Link Someguy Friday, 24 October 2014 18:20 posted by Someguy

      Best not to pay your taxes if this is how its spent.

    • Comment Link Diane Woodward Sunday, 12 October 2014 23:53 posted by Diane Woodward

      After watching the debate, I was shocked at the in-house results. Just the difference in attitudes of the for side and the against side was stark to me. The "for Common Core" side seemed a bit smug and less prepared. There were several questions that they did not answer. The against side seemed more humble and down to earth. Plus, they actually had intelligent answers for all the questions.

      As a teacher who has been deemed "highly effective" for the two years since my state adopted CCSS (so not sour grapes), I can tell you that the stress, not only on teachers, but on students, is not conducive to good teaching or learning. Many of the standards, especially grade 3 and below are developmentally inappropriate. They assume a background that doesn't exist. The pressure is really awful. The behaviors in school have deteriorated a lot since COMPASS and CCSS. Kids who can't do what is being asked of them act out.

    • Comment Link danielsuggs Sunday, 12 October 2014 16:01 posted by danielsuggs

      I agree that any standard would work if the school system was held accountable through nonadjustable results. The common core seems to be higher for lower grades and lower for higher grades. It should simply be higher for all grades. Higher standards, consistently, are the way out of mediocrity.

    • Comment Link Tom Cappelletti Monday, 06 October 2014 16:16 posted by Tom Cappelletti

      Lack of accountability is the biggest issue facing our public schools. In order to make our public schools accountable for teaching our kids we need standards and we need testing. A common set of standards and tests is a logical goal. We cannot leave this 100% to the states because many have proven not to be trustworthy because policy makers are ruled by the teachers unions, NYS is exhibit AAA. Teachers unions are all about the status quo and protecting teachers jobs full stop. We need standards and tests to unsure our kids are performing and evaluate teacher performance. We need accountability in our schools, right now we have none.

    • Comment Link Jennifer Sunday, 05 October 2014 22:45 posted by Jennifer

      So far all I see with this is loss of administrative personnel who were advocates for our children, teachers so stressed that they can't take time to "care" about the students in their class and student's from K -4 so frustrated with the new material that they're starting to dread going to school and acting up in class because they don't know what to do and the teacher doesn't have time to help. Several of the students are having to seek outside tutorial g, which is good for the sylvan and Kumon companies.

    • Comment Link Dr. Joseph A. Ricciotti Monday, 29 September 2014 14:21 posted by Dr. Joseph A. Ricciotti

      The developers of Common Core obviously know very little about child growth and development as I have indicated on Diane Ravitch's blog. (http://dianeravitch.net/?s=ricciotti)

    • Comment Link Miles Kelley Saturday, 27 September 2014 02:41 posted by Miles Kelley

      The in-house voting appears heavily biased.
      But the internet voting is very, very clearly baked by activists.
      Check other debates total vote count & spread, for comparison.

      Neither result is representative of what we would see if a random sampling of viewers were to have voted.
      Oh well.

    • Comment Link lfuller Wednesday, 24 September 2014 13:53 posted by lfuller

      I also find the discrepancy between the in-house results and the online voting interesting. My experience is that the concerns go far, far beyond a "conservative agenda." This is an important issue for a democratic society: what are the purposes of public schooling and who should make those decisions?

    • Comment Link Diana Per Monday, 22 September 2014 14:35 posted by Diana Per

      I think this debate would have been better served if all parties would have left politics out of the discussion. There were references to President Obama, to the Tea Party; even the moderator tainted the discussion with politics by making reference to a particular political party member putting his finger to the wind. How could the outcome of a debate about Common Core that includes references to Obama and Tea Party not affect the outcome of the result in today's polarized political climate?

    • Comment Link Monica Sunday, 21 September 2014 20:11 posted by Monica

      I think it's sad that the math part of common core isn't getting traction but it's no wonder. The occasional oddball question combined with the inflexible nature of common core is setting it up for failure. It really still is in beta form, yet they're trying to implement it now. Not a good idea. I made a video about it here... http://youtu.be/RPjYlfam16M

    • Comment Link Michi Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:16 posted by Michi

      I see so many arguing "why don't you want your kids to work harder" didn't really hear the argument that it isn't really about "workng harder" it s about what makes sense in how to teach kids properly in a way that makes sense to brains at that age. When these were first coming in, it was about ensuring kids were introduced to a variety of learning methods, not simply replacing x for y. I was all for that, but I am NOT for what it become.
      In a way, I feel like I'm back in 1st grade. We moved from a private school that taught reading by whole word method to a public one that taught phonics. So I failed the reading test that was not actually about reading words but breaking down the phonics. The remedial teacher wa astonished at how I never seemed to pay attention but could read when called upon. It wasn't until nearly the full year that they believed me tha I could actually read.
      Now, it was not a bad thing to learn phonics. But surely there was a way to do that without labeling me a "non-reader" and wasting a nearly a year of reading instruction. In actuality, I learned phonics because mom bought "Highlights" magazine. In the same way, it is fine to learn how to count by 10s, to estimate, to use a number line, but when it means you fail a 4th grader who can do a square root in their head but not estimate along a number line (even though they could do the actual problem in their head).

    • Comment Link Jan Kasal Thursday, 18 September 2014 08:29 posted by Jan Kasal

      I heard the CC opponents claiming that the audience consisted of Educators 4 Excellence (promoters of CC) who got the tickets in bulk.
      The naysayers will always find something negative.

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