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Michelle Rhee: Reframe Common Core As a Global-Competitiveness Issue

Of all of the issues StudentsFirst advocates for—from parent triggers to charter schools—common core isn't actually on the list.

Not that the organization and its founder, former District of Columbia schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, aren't big proponents of the Common Core State Standards. They are. It's just not their issue, Rhee told me in an interview for an upcoming story for EdWeek.

But, when she travels around for her work, common core is on the minds of many.

When she was in Florida talking about her issues, Rhee said 80 percent of the questions came from legislators about the common core. The problem isn't that legislators are against the standards, the problem is they're starting to hear concerns and rumblings of opposition, she said.

Her advice to them?

Reframe the debate.

"This is being framed as, 'The federal government is trying to stick something down your throat,'" Rhee said.

"You need to reframe the debate," Rhee said she told the Florida lawmakers. "This is about China kicking our butts. Do you want China to kick our butts? No!"

She said that states and advocacy groups were able to coalesce around the common core when the effort was just getting off the ground, and now that the hard work of implementation is ongoing, those same coalitions need to stick together.

"I do think that there has to be a very strong defense of the common core," she said.

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