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A young boy walks past an abandoned house in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, July 31, 2015. Reuters

AEI and Center for American Progress host a conference examining education reform in New Orleans 10 years after Hurricane Katrina.

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MEDIA_Hess_Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal_280

Nearly all Republican presidential hopefuls have raised valid concerns over the Common Core standards. Common Core’s supposed ‘high standards’ for k-12 reading and math learning have been ineffectually implemented thus far and have sparked debate over their effectiveness.

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While a year of pre-K can be helpful for many children, too often focus gets diverted from improving early learning for disadvantaged young children to promoting universal pre-K for all four-year-olds.

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AEI Director of Education Policy Studies Rick Hess discusses GOP candidates and their criticisms of the Common Core.

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ormer Florida Governor and Republican candidate for president Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall with high school students at La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Miami, Florida, September 1, 2015. Reuters

The concerns GOP presidential candidates are airing on the Common Core are legitimate and relevant.

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds a campaign town hall meeting in Claremont, New Hampshire August 11, 2015. Reuters

Hillary Clinton’s higher education plan is extensive and expensive. Set aside the fact that simply pumping more money into the system won’t solve quality problems and may well inflate college spending further, no matter how tight the new rules.

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Melvin Patterson (C), 7, listens to a lesson during seventh grade class at Samuel J. Green Charter School in New Orleans February 22, 2006. Hurricane Katrina gave New Orleans chronically underperforming school system a fresh start. REUTERS/Lee Celano.

In the decade since the largest natural disaster in US history, New Orleans has made a comeback, and perhaps its most dramatic changes are seen in its K-12 school system.

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The attempt to use this poll to say that “the Common Core is as American as apple pie” says a lot more about the agenda of the advocates who commissioned this poll than it does about American public opinion. At least the poll does seem to have clear-cut data on one topic: kittens.

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For schools in many states, “proficiency” has become a participation trophy.

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Gerard Robinson of AEI, Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN 6th,) and Allysia Finley discuss education reform, August 19, 2015.

According to Representative Luke Messer, the forum represented a “sea change, driven by parents, the consumers” of education on their children’s behalf: “the pursuit of happiness means access to and choice of quality education.”

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College affordability will help define debate in the 2016 presidential election. Presidential candidates must respond to this issue so critical to economic opportunity and advancement in 21st-century America.

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