What Does Common Standards Mean to a State?

For those wondering exactly what today’s announcement that 46 states and the District of Columbia signed on to the National Governors Association’s and the Council of Chief State School Officers’ effort to develop comprehensive common education standards (or national standards for those unafraid to exert the federal role in public education improvement), take a minute to check under the hood of this national standards ride we are about to buy, California style.

Penned by Cali Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Board of Ed Prez Ted Mitchell, and State Supe Jack O’Connell, the Golden State has put its name on the dotted line to “develop common core standards” and “participate in the international benchmarking efforts.”  No surprise, California seems to believe its current standards are likely the bar by which national standards should be measured, making clear the state “cannot commit to adopting [common standards] until we have determined that they meet or exceed our own.” 
The California brain trust has a few other ideas for those leading the common standards effort back in our nation’s capital.  Check out the full letter here: California Common Standards Letter
If this is the sort of non-commitment commitment we’re starting off with, we still have a few steps to go before we are asking our states and districts to actually adopt a common set of national K-12 education standards, complete with the assessments and accountability that need to accompany them.  Miles and miles to go, my friends, but we are taking steps forward.  

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