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Presidential Candidates and Members of Congress: Meet tenth grade standards for collaboration!

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Political leaders, led by the National Governors’ Association, expect our nation’s ninth and tenth grade students to master standards that they themselves cannot:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1b Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 45 states to ensure that students are “college and career ready” by the time they leave high school. Most of us would agree that these are worthwhile standards. But most of our country’s leaders could not pass tenth grade if they were held to these standards. In light of the above standards, consider this exchange during the October 16 presidential debate when the question asked by the moderator focused on immigration:

ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?
OBAMA: I've got to say...
ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?
OBAMA: You know, I -- I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours so it doesn't take as long.
ROMNEY: Well, let me give you some advice.
OBAMA: I don't check it that often.
ROMNEY: Let me give you some advice. Look at your pension. You also have investments in Chinese companies. You also have investments outside the United States. You also have investments through a Cayman's trust.
CROWLEY: We're way off topic here, Governor Romney.

Comedians began mocking the debate before it even went off the air, and major media outlets declared it the least civil debate in history. Yet we expect tenth graders to do what our leaders cannot.

Please join me in demanding that our leaders practice and model the standards they expect our young people to master.

You can follow the progress of this petition, including the latest media coverage and more information on efforts to bring our country together, on my web site, Heads and Hatracks (

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