U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is expected to sit down with some of the country’s most powerful CEOs today at the Business Roundtable’s quarterly meeting. On the agenda: the new Common Core education standards. Adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, the standards are expected to be in place by next school year. But with the Common Core under attack by some conservatives, businesses are launching a public relations campaign in defense of the academic guidelines.
One of the biggest boosters is ExxonMobil. Its CEO Rex Tillerson wrote an op-ed this month in the Wall Street Journal, and the company has run television ads promoting the standards, which are designed to prepare students for college and the workforce. Tillerson also chairs the Business Roundtable's education and workforce committee.
The standards were crafted by governors and state education officials, but pushed by the Obama Administration. Tea party conservatives have mounted a campaign against what they call a federal intrusion.
The Business Roundtable is planning its own ads to fight back. One of its member companies, Intel, is trying a more grass-roots approach, holding forums for employees to explain the Common Core.
“The polling that we’ve done as part of these forums indicate that about fifty percent of the parents just don’t know,” says Carlos Contreras, U.S. director of education for Intel.
Contreras says when they come into these sessions, about 27 percent of employees approve of the standards. When they leave, it’s closer to 80 percent.