Will the Common Core Standards Help Our Troubled Economy?

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defended his Common Core standards during an address at the annual convention of the American Society of News Editors at the end of June. He admonished his critics.

Secretary Duncan noted that academic standards were not headline news at one time. But now that has changed and it is a topic for editorials.

"Why?" asked Duncan. "That's because a new set of standards—rigorous, high-quality learning standards, developed and led by a group of governors and state education chiefs—are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools.".

He observed that the editor's "role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important." He asked the audience to assist Americans in distinguishing between information and misinformation.

"I'd like to make the case that these standards have the capacity to change education in the best of ways—setting loose the creativity and innovation of educators at the local level, raising the bar for students, strengthening our economy and building a clearer path to the middle class," he said. "But for these new standards to succeed, Americans will need to be clear on what's true and what's false. For America to prosper—and for journalism to survive—we need a generation that reads, writes and thinks."

Duncan explained that the controversial Common Core program was derived from the necessity to provide American youth "an education that leaves them not just college-ready but innovation-ready."

He associated education with the redistribution of wealth claiming, "We're not going to pave a path to the middle class with the cheapest labor. We're not going to reverse the polarization of wealth in this country through unskilled jobs. The only way that we can promise all of our young people a genuine opportunity is through a world-class education."