If It Looks Like a Duck and Quacks Like a Duck ... Who Cares What It's Called?

When the GOP candidates held their latest presidential debate last week, rigorous standards were once again a part of the conversation. When Marco Rubio jabbed New Jersey governor Chris Christie for embracing the Common Core, Christie shot back:

Common Core has been eliminated in New Jersey.

A round of fact-checking followed, during which Vox, among others, media-splained to the governor that, actually, rigorous standards were mostly still in place in New Jersey, despite the convenience of the talking point.

Two things strike me here. First, a republican governor, in the midst of a presidential campaign, has lots of political incentives to distance himself from high standards. The GOP primary electorate is not happy with the perceived federal encroachment on schooling. It's hard to believe that the debate about standards would contain anything like the current level of animus if there weren't a presidential campaign happening in the foreground.

Second, the situation in New Jersey is not unlike what is happening in other states, like Indiana, Oklahoma, and others, wherein the "Common Core" is technically abandoned, but the standards and practices that replace it look an awful lot like the rigorous, internationally benchmarked standards of the Common Core. As other states look to make a political point of abandoning standards - like the voters in Massachusetts will opine on this fall - it's worth considering the actual cost to taxpayers of going through the kabuki theater entailed in replacing six of one with a half a dozen of another.