In Common No More
The Politics of the Common Core State Standards
by Arnold F. Shober
June 2016, 256pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3770-8
$53, £40, 46€, A72
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3771-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Some believe that implementation of Common Core standards disregards academic effectiveness in favor of governmental control.

When did the Common Core evolve from pet project to pariah among educators and parents? This book examines the rise and fall of our national education standards from their inception to the present day.

Parents, teachers, and political groups have waged debates over the Common Core since the standards’ adoption in 2010. This timely examination explores the shifting political alliances related to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, explains why initial national support has faded, and considers the major debates running through the Common Core controversy. The book is organized around four themes of political conflict: federal versus state control, minorities versus majorities, experts versus professionals, and elites versus local preferences.

The work reviews the politics of state and national standards, evaluating the political arguments for and against the Common Core: federal overreach, lack of evidence for effectiveness, lack of parental control, lack of teacher input, improper adaptive testing, overtesting, and connections to private education-reform funders and foundations. The work includes a short primer on the Common Core State Standards Initiative as well as on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balance, two state-level organizations that have worked on the standards. An informative appendix presents brief descriptions of major interest groups and think tanks involved with the standards initiative along with a timeline of American educational standards reforms and the Common Core.


  • Examines the politics of the Common Core standards across all 50 states
  • Highlights the similarities and differences between Common Core and earlier attempts at state and national standards
  • Suggests which political issues could undermine the Common Core State Standards Initiative—and which are simply long-running controversies in American educational politics
  • Gives details about the major interest groups and think tanks with stakes in the Common Core controversy
Arnold F. Shober, PhD, is associate professor of government at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. His published works include Splintered Accountability: State Governance and Education Reform and The Democratic Dilemma of American Education: Out of Many, One? as well as shorter works on school boards, teacher quality, school choice, and American federalism. He received the Faculty Research Award from Lawrence University in 2015. He earned his bachelor's degree in political science and history from Bradley University and his master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.


"Shober provides an incredibly clear, detailed, and accurate map of the long and winding road that has led to the current state of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. He provides sharp analysis of the political alliances and strategic decisions that facilitated many of the early successes of the Common Core while also detailing the various objections—often from unlikely coalitions—that have led to the more recent challenges and setbacks for the standards. This book is a must-read for anyone looking to truly understand the politics surrounding the Common Core!"—Deven Carlson, Department of Political Science, University of Oklahoma

"It is increasingly difficult to separate Common Core rhetoric from reality. Here, Shober presents a carefully researched, thorough account of the Common Core's origins and evolution. Standards skeptics and supporters alike will be challenged by his straightforward documentation of ideas, institutions, and individuals responsible for developing, implementing, defending, and deriding the Common Core."—Lesley Lavery, Department of Political Science, Macalester College
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