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Common Core

, 216 pages

1 halftone, 3 line drawings

March 2018



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Common Core

National Education Standards and the Threat to Democracy


The Common Core State Standards Initiative is one of the most controversial pieces of education policy to emerge in decades. Detailing what and when K–12 students should be taught, it has led to expensive reforms and displaced other valuable ways to educate children. In this nuanced and provocative book, Nicholas Tampio argues that, though national standards can raise the education bar for some students, the democratic costs outweigh the benefits.

To make his case, Tampio describes the history, philosophy, content, and controversy surrounding the Common Core standards for English language arts and math. He also explains and critiques the Next Generation Science Standards, the Advanced Placement US History curriculum framework, and the National Sexuality Education Standards. Though each set of standards has admirable elements, Tampio asserts that democracies should disperse education authority rather than entrust one political or pedagogical faction to decide the country’s entire philosophy of education.

Ultimately, this lively and accessible book presents a compelling case that the greater threat to democratic education comes from centralized government control rather than from local education authorities.

Nicholas Tampio is an associate professor of political science at Fordham University. He is the author of Kantian Courage: Advancing the Enlightenment in Contemporary Political Theory and Deleuze’s Political Vision.

"In "Common Core: National Education Standards and the Threat to Democracy," Nicholas Tampio offers a concise and readable anatomy of the Common Core movement as well as a case against national standards generally."

"The book is brief, pithy, to-the-point and well-focused, making it a great gift for your civilian friend who wants a quick, accessible explanation of what all the fuss is about."

"Well-researched, clearly written, and thoughtfully presented, this excellent critique of Common Core is written with conviction but without vitriol. Nicholas Tampio’s first-rate book, which is admirably respectful of opinions contrary to his own, is a pleasure to read."

"A brilliant take on the problems of the Common Core and any effort to impose uniform standards on all children. Thoughtful, evidence-based, and compelling, this should be a must-read for education policymakers and anyone concerned about the future of education."

"While Tampio is clearly opposed to national education standards, he skillfully offers his readers an opportunity to be educated on both sides of the issue. Nicholas Tampio's work also illuminates the harmful, inextricable weaving of the national standards push with both mind-narrowing standardized testing and invasive student data collection. An important read."

"Whatever your opinion of Common Core is, you must read this book. Nicholas Tampio explains what is wrong with insisting on a single vision of education for a diverse nation like the United States and illustrates how we can rescue public education."

"In his important book, Nicholas Tampio challenges the very idea that democracies need national education standards. He respectfully considers alternate points of view, and his reasoning will confound liberals and conservatives alike."

"Rightly identifying the threat posed by Common Core in turning American education into a monoculture, Nicholas Tampio maps educational pathways that promote student achievement but also preserve local control and democratic practice. Mandatory reading for anyone interested in the recent history of education reform in the United States."

"Common Core provides a useful reminder of how educators—together with parents, and civil society—should be engaged in a larger political process of how schools, curricula, and national standards are organized."

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