Business Execs: Fight for Common Core Before It’s Too Late

Managing Editor


Representatives of major corporations today urged their peers in the business community to take up the fight to defend the Common Core State Standards—and warned them to steel themselves for opposition from some quarters, and apathy from others.

At an education forum held by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at its headquarters, leaders from Intel Corp., Cisco Systems, and the ExxonMobil Foundation described their efforts to promote the standards through different strategies, including coast-to-coast advertising campaigns and outreach to company employees and parents in the overall community. That salesmanship will continue over the coming months, they said.
Still, so far it has not been easy.

That was evident in the reaction to a particularly high-profile effort to sell the common core by ExxonMobil, which has paid for a series of nationwide, televised ads promoting the standards.

For every 100 emails the company has received in response to the ads, a staggering number of them, about 99, were negative, estimated Patrick McCarthy, the executive director of the ExxonMobil Foundation.

“There’s a lot of them that say, ‘How could you do this? How could you support the common core?'” McCarthy told the chamber audience. “There’s just all these myths out there.”

Among those myths: that the standards were designed by federal officials, and that the common core creates a detailed curriculum that schools will be forced to follow, McCarthy and other speakers on a panel said.

ExxonMobil is not backing away, he said. The company has plans to continue to run TV ads promoting the common core, to write op-eds in newspapers supporting it, and to aggressively lobby state legislators not to back away from commitments to the standards, he said.

“These policymakers are hearing from tea-party activists, from anti-common-core activists,” McCarthy said. “All they’re hearing is why the common core is bad. … Policymakers are eager to hear from [the business community]. They want to hear the other side of the story.”

Carlos Contreras, the director of U.S. education for tech giant Intel, said his company has been discussing the importance of the common core at forums for its employees, with the idea that those workers will become ambassadors for the standards.

But those efforts have also offered reminders of the tough road ahead. Surveys of Intel employees showed that roughly 50 percent of them were not familiar with the common core. And a small but substantial portion of those workers appear to be adamantly against them, Contreras said.

Contreras advised the business leaders in attendance to make sure their representatives in states and cities are familiar with the standards, and then ask those community voices to stand up for the common core.

“It has to be delivered locally,” Contreras said, adding: “When there’s a vacuum, [bad information] comes in.”

Handling Community Objections

Cisco Systems is trying to educate its sales force and its business partners about the common core, said Renee Patton, the director of education for the company. The goal, she said, is to help them sort through, “How do they handle objections when they hear them in the community?”

One of the biggest fears Patton hears does not focus on the standards themselves, but on the tests aligned to them, and the costs of implementing online tests scheduled to begin during the 20140-2015 academic year. Concerns about school districts’ ability to pull off the online tests have grown louder in recent months.

Another speaker at the event, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, acknowledged that he and other backers of the standards face “a real battle” in standing up for them.

That fight is likely to play out in public this week, when Tennessee state legislators are expected to hold a hearing focused on criticism of the standards, he noted. Opposition to the standards has risen from both the far right and far left, creating a “fairly unique push from both ends,” said the Republican governor, who supports the common core.

“The way we address it is we keep talking about what it is,” Haslam said, “and what it’s not.”
[UPDATE (Sept. 18): Another major business organization met this week in Washington with education on the agenda: the Business Roundtable, a group representing more than 200 CEOs, which supports the common core.

President Obama spoke to the roundtable on Wednesday, asking them to back his efforts to reign in college costs and thanking them for getting behind the standards.

The common core will ensure “that every young person in America has the opportunity to get prepared for the kinds of jobs that are going to exist in the 21st century,” Obama said, according to a transcript.

Secretary Arne Duncan addressed the roundtable the same day, touching on the administration’s college affordability and early education efforts, as well as “the importance of our children needing to be held to high educational standards,” spokesman Cameron French said in an e-mail.]

7 thoughts on “Business Execs: Fight for Common Core Before It’s Too Late

  1. Much of the Common Core reads like our old state standards. What is different is the tone, reemphasizing thinking over a long list of curricular items. So I’m glad to see business, or anyone else, stand up for them.
    What I remain uncertain of is the value of the testing. What’s the cost-benefit to learning?

  2. Don’t you ask yourself why Exxon Mobile finds this worthy of their attention? Don’t you find that curious in the least?

  3. Since there’s big profits to be made by diverting ed dollars away from public schools and into private business coffers, of COURSE big business supports the CC$$. Unfortunately, teachers are more and more understanding that they should not. They were written by corporate CEO’s with NO educational background. Teacher input was minimal. They are NO improvement for MOST states over what they already had. The CC$$ amount to a federal take-over of our nation’s education. Bad plan there.

  4. I think this article makes sound more real everyday.
    CC$$ were written with some educator input. I say educator not teacher as no current teacher had input.
    CC$$ are NOT here to help students achieve anything. They are here to make corporations $$.
    They are here to make it appear that our schools are failing and therefore should be closed.
    They are here to give rise to the charter privatization of education.
    They are here to compare all students against all students. No matter if a student increased his learning. What matters is if he increased more than that other student.
    They are here because of the almighty dollar. PERIOD.
    Why else would so many super corporations be this involved? If these guys care so much, why not just pay their taxes? Why not just make donations to the DOE? Oh, that’s right, they do that one. They’ve bought many a politician and the DOE is no exception.
    If they wanted to see real change in public ed, they would work to reduce poverty in this country. THAT is the #1 indicator of a child’s educational success.

  5. How can you call it a federal takeover when the federal government was and still is being used as a sock puppet by those who would profit from the CCSS and it’s associated testing, test prep and curricular materials? None of this began at the federal or any governmental level. This is a hostile corporate takeover leveraged by massive private wealth allied to corporate influence over what was once OUR political system. It’s also called Fascism, though oligarchy is a better description.

  6. Your work on this should be mandatory reading for all libertarian and Teaparty types. One would hope they would be able to see and comprehend the difference between the sock puppet now masquerading as government and what actual government should be. Interesting fact: Ayn Rand was a staunch supporter of the separation of business and government. She failed to understand that government’s obligation to defend the rights of it’s citizens extended to defending them from business malpractice, that government had an obligation to level the legal playing field between the individual and the power and influence of wealth. She had no concept of the reality of Gresham’s dynamic (law), consistently setting up any government regulation as a straw man that created rather than responded to the failures of her conception of free market capitalism to be noble and self regulating in a way that benefited all and harmed none . Her epic failure to confront and understand the evidence of history on this has been enshrined and continues to this day amongst libertarians and others. Her seriously flawed understanding of both business and individual psychology and the availability of accurate information as it relates to individual agency vs. business malfeasance, if she could admit those things to be real in the first place, invalidates her entire line of reasoning on the subject. Again, we see this in action with Gates and others across the business world. For example,

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