Caitlin Emma has a great story about Bill Bennett’s new-found advocacy for the Common Core standards in the Morning Edition of

“CONSTERNATION OVER COMMON CORE: The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed [] this week supporting the Common Core – and it wasn’t long before the author, Reagan administration Education Secretary Bill Bennett, was targeted by critics. Chief among them: the libertarian Cato Institute, which said [ ] Thursday that Bennett’s piece is rife with spin and contradictions. For example, Bennett writes: “When I was chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities in the 1980s, I asked 250 people across the political spectrum what 10 books every student should be familiar with by the time they finish high school. Almost every person agreed on five vital sources: the Bible, Shakespeare, America’s founding documents, the great American novel ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and classical works of mythology and poetry, like the Iliad and the Odyssey.” But Cato’s Neal McCluskey writes that no such mandates are mentioned in the Common Core standards. “Presumably, the Core includes these readings that almost everyone Bennett polled agreed students should tackle. Right? Um, no.”

– Bennett told Morning Education that the op-ed was simply suggesting that such literature makes up the ‘intellectual roots’ of the Common Core. (The fundamental idea behind a core curriculum is “preserving and emphasizing what’s essential, in fields like literature and math, to a worthwhile education,” the op-ed says. “It is also, by the way, a conservative idea.”) But when it comes to curriculum or required reading lists, he told Morning Education, “I think that’s a decision that ought to be made at the local level.”

– Bennett said he wrote the op-ed because the Common Core has “taken a beating that’s been unwarranted.” And he’s planning to write more in support of the standards, he said. He also acknowledged that the public relations, lobbying and business consulting firm DCI Group paid him for the op-ed. “I’m compensated for most of the things that I do,” he said.

Rick Hess quickly dashed off a piece for National Review questioning Bennett’s “tepid defense” of CCSS. He says, conservatives believe in standards so these standards must be good.

So, conservatives can feel reassured about the value of the CCSS because Bill Bennett approves them. Whether he has actually read them is another issue. What he does not touch on is whether a national curriculum, enforced by the power of the federal government (e.g. Threatening to withdraw federal waivers from states that repeal the Common Core [Oklahoma] or states that won’t evaluate teachers by test scores, which is probably illegal in itself) is legal, constitutional or wise.