The South Dakota Chamber of Commerce is throwing its weight behind the Common Core education standards:

David Owen, the chamber’s president, said today that he’ll officially announce the endorsement on Friday morning.

"We believe we need rigorous standards," Owen said. "Common Core are the kind of standards we think make sense, and we don’t see any others."

Owen said opponents of the standards, developed by the National Governors Association, should produce their own “set of standards that helps in the same way Common Core does” [David Montgomery, "Chamber of Commerce to Endorse Common Core Standards," Political Smokeout, 2014.01.09].

I can't imagine why an ultimately ineffective policy like Common Core warrants an expenditure of the Chamber's political capital. Owen must be doing someone a favor. But since Owen and the business lobby feel qualified to weigh in on education, I look forward to the respect they will accord teachers when the South Dakota Education Association weighs in on business licensing requirements, sales tax, economic development grants, and other economic policy issues.

Owen commits a familiar fallacy. He's trying to make you think that our only policy options are the Common Core standards or an alternative set of standards. Offer no alternative, and your opposition is bogus.

That's like saying, "Teachers need beatings. We don't have to listen to your opposition to beatings for teachers unless you offer an alternative plan for dishing out beatings." That position ignores the fact that "No beatings!" is a perfectly valid and possibly superior policy position.

But opposition to interstate Common Core standards doesn't mean "No standards!" Every good school already offers alternative standards. Every good teacher already teaches the knowledge and skills that their professional expertise says kids need. Every good administrator already hires who can bring such expertise to bear in selecting books, delivering lessons, and evaluating student performance.

If teachers read the Common Core standards and decide they align with what they find necessary and effective in their classrooms, great. But teachers and schools should have the freedom to say they prefer the high standards their own professional expertise has led them to use for years. They should also be free to revise or reject national standards, even if—or perhaps especially if—some salesman or business organization tells them they should use those standards.