Imagine the students who attend Iowa schools after the adoption of the Common Core. Imagine them when they are ten or twelve years out of school. Take a look at the standards. How many of those students, at age thirty, will have all the skills described in the standards? How many will be fluent in all of the math concepts listed in the standards? How much different will those numbers be than they are for the thirty-year-olds who attended Iowa schools before the Core standards? What evidence is there to think that the difference will be significant?
Of course, there is no right or wrong answer to this thought experiment. Maybe the Common Core will transform society as we know it. Or maybe not. My own feeling is that people attribute near-magical powers to K-12 education, when experience shows that the choice of one curriculum over another doesn’t make nearly as much difference in actual adult knowledge and abilities as we’d like to think it does.
This isn’t an argument against the Core per se—just an argument that it’s not so obviously and urgently important that it has to be imposed on everyone everywhere.