Good news: The State Education Department is doing the right thing, recommending only innocuous changes to the math and English standards in the controversial Common Core curriculum. But will SED stick to its guns?

The Common Core national academic standards outline the knowledge and skills that every student should have in math and English at the end of each grade. But every state is free to adopt its own version — which leaves lots of room for mischief.

Clear, universal standards make it easier to see which kids — and which schools and school systems — are falling behind. And that’s a threat to certain special interests — above all, teachers unions and their allies, who’ve done their best to feed hysteria over Common Core.

Here in New York, the result was the “opt out” movement — which scared many parents (mostly suburban ones) into refusing to let their kids take state Common Core exams.

That forced the state into one huge retreat, effectively killing any chance of using the exam results to help judge the competence of individual teachers. The still-live question is whether the war on Common Core will end there.

SED plainly hopes so: Its recommended changes mainly just define the standards more clearly for teachers, students and parents — while aiming to also provide enough guidance and resources.

For example, the proposed changes would replace the current emphasis on nonfiction reading, aiming to include more fiction.

Fair enough, say Common Core advocates — relieved that New York’s changes wouldn’t just gut the standards. But the hysterics are already pushing SED for exactly such steps — and there’s no guarantee the bureaucrats or their political overlords won’t comply.

Fortunately, time is on the side of the angels here: It could take two years to fully implement even the proposals now on the table. Slow-moving bureaucracies can have their virtues, too.

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