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What Do Common Core and the Fiscal Fight Have in Common?

By Alyson Klein — October 21, 2013 1 min read

Quick political quiz for edu-nerds: What do the shutdown/almost-default-on-the-national-debt and common core have in common?

I’ll give you a minute...

Give up? They’re both issues that divide the GOP. In particular, they are areas on which the grassrootsy, tea party, activisty side of the Republican Party doesn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with the business community.

The New York Times and the Washington Post have ably explained how the business community was putting big pressure on its Republican allies in Congress to end the shutdown already, and stop flirting with default. And many of those same folks in the business world are also the ones touting the Common Core State Standards as a way to ensure that kids are prepared for the demands of the workplace, as opposed to some big Obama administration conspiracy to wrestle local control from districts, which is the way some tea party activists see it.

Mike Petrilli, a vice-president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (and a whip-smart blogger) has been traveling from statehouse to statehouse to testify on the common core. He put his finger on the trend.

“Common core is caught up in the same problems that we [saw] with the shutdown,” said Petrilli, who served in the U.S. Department of Education during President George W. Bush’s first term. The two biggest-name business lobbying organizations—the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable—have started to take up the mantle of common core in the face of tea party opposition. That’s happening not just at the national level, but also in states (story mentioning the involvement of Ohio’s BRT in its fight over common core here).

“What you end up having is business groups very much doing battle with the tea party,” he said. That puts GOP governors, such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, whose states have adopted common core, in a tight spot. “It’s not good to have these interparty fights, but that’s where we find ourselves,” Petrilli said.

Fair analogy? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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