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NEPC Review: Behind the Curtain: Assessing the Case for National Standards (February 2010)

President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have called for national "common core" curriculum standards. Some have argued that national standards are essential for reform, as they provide coherence, rigor, logic and organization. Others have contended they will narrow the curriculum, seize control from local districts and states, and distort the purposes of education. The Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey argues that national standards will have only limited, if any, effect. The report contends there is only a weak theoretical case in favor of national standards and that the structure of schooling might be the real problem. It concludes that market models are the best way to reform education. While providing a useful summary and critique of the research on national standards, the non-sequitur in the report (standards do not work; therefore the free market will) presents readers with a conclusion not supported by the report’s evidence. Thus, the fundamental policy conclusions are not sustained.

Suggested Citation: Mathis, W.J. (2010). Review of "Behind the Curtain: Assessing the Case for National Standards." Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved [date] from

Document Reviewed:

Behind the Curtain: Assessing the Case for National Standards

Neal McCluskey
Cato Institute