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Although they only recently captured national attention, the Common Core standards – which lay out what students should know and be able to do by each grade – have been in the works since at least 2008. It all started with former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who was the 2006-07 chair of the National Governors Association and now leads the University of California system, says Dane Linn, a vice president of the Business Roundtable who oversees its Education and Workforce Committee.
While serving as chair, Napolitano wrote an initiative for the year, as every past chair had done and as every chair has since. According to Linn, who at the time was serving as director of the NGA's Educational Policy Division, Napolitano's initiative had a strong focus on improving math and science education, as well as the workforce.