And public support is clearly lacking. A Gallup poll released in September indicated that 60 percent of the public opposed the Core, part of a clear trend of plummeting support.
Common Core has plenty of other notable advocates who’ve recently weighed in with words, if not evidence. University of Miami president and former Clinton administration official Donna Shalala penned an op‐ed stating that the country needs Common Core to address “gender‐based inequities” hurting female students. Not only did Shalala offer no evidence supporting the notion that the Core would fix inequities, when it comes to college‐ and career‐readiness — what the Core is supposed to put on turbo boost — women are outperforming men, 57 percent of college students are female and only 43 percent male, and women far surpass men in taking rigorous Advanced Placement courses in high school.
Finally, there’s former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett, who twice since September has written pieces defending the Core. In the first, Bennett stated that “we can all agree” the country needs a core curriculum and he suggested that all kids should read such works as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Illiad. He then excoriated Core opponents for perpetuating the “myth…that Common Core involves a required reading list.” Why? Because the Common Core doesn’t actually have the literature nucleus Bennett thinks essential.
In December Bennett struck again, suggesting that since centralized standards and testing has so far failed (see No Child Left Behind), we should centralize even further. The illogic is almost self‐evident, but more important is that he again failed to offer any actual evidence the Core would improve outcomes. Like Ford and Shalala, he just assumed it.
So why the evidentiary silence? Because there simply is no meaningful evidence for Core effectiveness.
The Core itself has never been tested. Indeed, in 2009 the federal government told states that to compete for Race to the Top funds they’d have to promise to adopt the Core before it was even fully written, much less tested.