Peter Greene read Mike Petrilli’s challenge: Mike suggested nine (or more) questions that should be asked of any Republicans who oppose Common Core. Mike and the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute are zealous advocates for Common Core.

Here are Peter’s answers to Mike’s questions.

Peter begins by remarking on Mike’s debating style:

“This is one of the things I find vaguely charming about Petrilli– he seems like that overeager kid on the debate team who enjoys making a verbal jousting match over anything from the death penalty to the correct side on which the loose end of the toilet paper should hang. Political advocacy/thinky tankery seems like his dream job.”

But on to the questions, which I will excerpt. Open the link to read the other five questions and answers.

“1) Do you mean that you oppose the Common Core standards themselves? All of them? Even the ones related to addition and subtraction? Phonics? Studying the nation’s founding documents? Or just some of them? Which ones, in particular, do you oppose? Have you actually read the standards?

Yeah, when Petrilli says nine questions, he’s being liberal with his use of the traditional counting methods.

I have, of course, read the standards, and the correct question is not to ask exactly which ones I object to. I would ask, instead, why I am supposed to search through all the standards looking for the unobjectionable ones, like hunting a piece of uncooked spaghetti in a stack of needles. I would not hand a teacher a textbook and say, “Some of the pages of this book are good and usable, so keep the whole thing.” I would not serve someone a meal that is part nutritious food, part plastic, and part arsenic. The fact that some standards are unobjectionable does not mean the whole thing shouldn’t be thrown out.

2) Or do you mean that you oppose the role that the federal government played in coercing states to adopt the Common Core?

Well, yes. That and the role it continues to play. Petrilli suggests that doesn’t make a GOP candidate special among other GOP candidates. So be it. It’s better to be right than to be special.

3) Do you mean that you think states should drop out of the Common Core? States like Iowa? Isn’t that a bit presumptive, considering that you’re not from Iowa and the state’s Republican governor wants Common Core to stay?

This is not so much a question as a dare. Go ahead, it says. Go ahead and declare yourself in favor of setting aside the will of the state. The correct answer is, of course, that Iowa has the right to be a damn fool if it wants to, but that doesn’t make it any less foolish, and any sensible person would offer the opinion that Iowa ought to stop being foolish.

4) If you do think that states should reject the Common Core, which standards should replace them? Do they need to be entirely different, or just a little bit different? And could you cite a specific example of a standard that needs to be “different?”

Let’s back up the assumption truck, and let me hear your support for the idea that national-ish standards are necessary or in any way useful. Which highly successful nations on the globe are successful because of national standards? Which studies show the value of national standards? Because I think the states should get rid of the standards, period. But if the state thinks they need standards, they can best design them from the ground floor up. The Common Core does not need to be (nor should it be) a rough draft, and there is no need to compare future hypothetical standards to it. If your brother gets divorced, and then remarried, you do not go to Thanksgiving dinner and ask for an accounting of how different his new wife is from his previous one.”