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How Business Got Schooled in the War Over Common Core Standards

When Exxon Mobil, GE, Intel, and others pushed for the education standards, they incurred the wrath of Tea Party conservatives and got a painful lesson in modern politics.


Other companies have been much more timid or have retreated in the face of the controversy. For example, General Electric GE 0.03% —once among Common Core’s biggest supporters—has fled the fight after becoming a Tea Party target. “There’s a somewhat unwritten rule that if you’re a CEO, you only get your business involved in an issue that rewards your company in some fashion,” says former Intel chief Craig Barrett. Education reform is “such a hot topic,” especially as Common Core made it “more of a tar baby,” that “it’s sometimes difficult to get people enthusiastic,” he adds. “A lot of people just sit on the sidelines.” Adds Barrett, with exasperation: “It’s turned into a political food fight instead of an education discussion … The hope is that rational minds will prevail.”