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In the aftermath of the federal mandates imposed through No Child Left Behind, the state-led effort to establish common math and English standards across states—known as the Common Core State Standards—seemed a welcome change in the approach to improving student achievement and success. However, the effort to ensure that students were ready for college or the workforce became the political target of those who distrust federal mandates and fear a nationalized education agenda bent on social engineering. The standards became intertwined with NSA spying, data mining, and federal grants for education with strings attached.

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