It's easy to get lost in the big picture or the strained minutia of Common Core, so let's for a moment just focus on one simple, clear, fatal flaw in the CCSS. If your civilian friends can't understand anything else about the fuss, help them understand this.
The Common Core State Standards are set in stone.
Not just stone, but stone mounted in cement crazy-glued to bedrock all sealed in amber.
Let's really, really look at this, because it's an aspect of the Core that civilians tend to assume is just not true, because it's so unbelievably dumb.
But the Core are copyrighted, and if you want to use them, you must do so as is, with not a single change. States may add up to 15% on top of what's there, but they may not rewrite the CCSS in any way, shape, form, jot, tittle, or squib. States cannot adjust the standards a little to suit themselves. They cannot adapt them to fit local needs. They can't touch them.
Even more importantly (and incredibly) there is NO process for review and revision.
This is the part that I think people just assume isn't so, because it's just not how anybody does anything.
All business plans and procedures and policies are set up with a mechanism for internal review. If you want to earn your ISO 900000000 Six Sigma Star Corporate Black Belt, the documentation that you submit a process for the review and revision of your policies and procedures. It is taken as an article of faith that any set of plans and policies will contain problems that will come to light after implementation, and there must be a method for course correction. Plus, a robust system must have a means of adjusting to new realities.
Every system includes measures for adjusting and changing and correcting. School district strategic plans have processes in place for review and revision. IEPs for students have multiple methods for evaluating and adjusting process. The Reformsters like the idea that students will take tests and teachers will absorb the data in order to immediately revise and adjust instruction. Heck, the damn Constitution of the United States of America has a provision for proposing and implementing corrections and changes.
The Common Core State Standards might be the only major controlling plan in the world to NOT include ANY means of correcting, appealing, adjusting, or appealing.
If you found what you considered to be a terrible mistake in the CCSS, there is no place you can call, no office you can contact, no form you can fill out, no appeal process you can appeal to, no meeting of the board you can attend to submit your comment, no set of representatives you can contact with your concern. There is nothing. The CCSS cannot be changed.
Even if your civilian friends are right when they say, "Oh, it can't be that bad," please point out to them that no matter how "not bad" the Core is, it can never, ever get any better. Ever.
P.S. Two Reasons That The Above Only Sort of Matters
Number one. At this juncture, should a state violate the precious copyright or "Do Not Touch" order on the standards, I don't believe for a second that the copyright holders will dispatch the Common Core police.
Number two. The standards don't matter. Only one thing matters, and that's the Big Test. At the end of the day, test prep for that will take precedence over everything else, including whatever folderol is in the standards.