The Common Core State Standards and Intellectual Freedom: Implications for Libraries

Loretta M. Gaffney


The Common Core State Standards are a single set of codified, grade-by-grade K-12 educational standards in both English/language arts (ELA) and math that were intended to replace previous state K-12 standards and align them with one another. The National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) developed Common Core in consultation with educational testing companies and with funding from the Bill Gates Foundation. While Common Core has enjoyed bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans, opposition to Common Core has also generated strange bedfellows, mingling groups that would ordinarily clash, such as the Tea Party and teachers’ union locals. Disparate challenges to Common Core are best understood not as individual curricular challenges, but as moving pieces in a larger social movement context.

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Critiques of Common Core stem from multiple positions along the political spectrum, and political affiliation does not predict an individual’s stance on the standards. Rather than discuss particular individuals who oppose Common Core and why they do so, I have chosen to limit my discussion to the groups that explicitly target Common Core as an organizing issue. An “organizing issue” is one that groups employ as a rallying point in order to draw diverse constituencies together and achieve a particular political goal.

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