Edward L. Glaeser’s view of federal education standards (“Unfounded fear of Common Core,” Op-ed, June 14) is complicated by his (freely acknowledged) service on an advisory board for the Gates Foundation, the major funder of national standards and numerous supportive trade and advocacy groups. His argument is that Common Core opponents fear a “bogeyman.” What I fear is how uninformed Glaeser’s piece is.
There is no empirical reason to believe that national standards lead to better results than state standards. There are countries without national standards that perform better than the United States on international assessments.
Glaeser claims that national tests do not impinge on local curricular choices. He should read the federal funding applications submitted by the national test consortiums, which promise to develop curricular materials and instructional practice guides.
He suggests that without Common Core, we lack data to reform schools. We have numerous measurements, including state tests, sampled national and international tests, and many private tests. Does classroom innovation require imposing a one-size-fits-all test so a Brookline teacher can see what’s happening in Fayetteville, Ark.? Innovation requires recruiting and retaining good teachers and teaching a high-quality liberal arts curriculum. Oddly, Glaeser asks us not to be concerned about Common Core’s literature and math offerings, which are weaker than what Massachusetts now requires.