Many of us had been under the impression that the goal of the Common Core standards was to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the nation’s schools.

As someone who spent years advocating for national standards–but has been agnostic about the new Common Core standards–it was always my hope that improving education would be, should be the goal. At least that was my hope when I worked in the US Department of Education in 1991-93 and expended a few million dollars so that teachers’ groups could write voluntary national standards in the arts, history, civics, science, foreign language, physical education, and economics (the math teachers had already written their own standards).

Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute has a completely different understanding of the Common Core. As he explains it, “reformers” expect that the Common Core standards will reveal to suburban parents just how awful their public schools are. This will set off the “reformers’” long-hoped for stampede for privatization among the smug and satisfied denizens of the nation’s suburbs.

Imagine the possibilities as everyone discovers their local school is failing and runs to the exits, demanding charters and vouchers.

Farewell, public education. Hello, free market.

Even Rick Hess has his doubts about this scenario.