The real shame of the incident is that Mr. Small has it backward when it comes to the Common Core. It is designed to increase academic rigor, not to reduce it. Mr. Small's contends that "you're not preparing them for Harvard," but the old curriculum certainly wasn't either. The Common Core standards emerged out of an unprecedented collaboration between 48 states, Washington D.C. and two territories to determine what students need to know to prepare them for higher education and careers in an increasingly competitive global economy. The work was validated by teachers, principals, state education officials and researchers — including, for the record, at least one from Harvard's Graduate School of Education. It focuses on developing critical thinking and problem solving skills and seeks to correct flaws in existing methods that often led to students covering large amounts of material with little depth or understanding.