The federal education standards known as Common Core have provoked nationwide debate.
Candidates in the hotly contested Democratic primary to replace longtime Congressman Jim Moran are divided about national education standards.
Most of the 10 Democrats running in the primary support Common Core, a system of national standards that outline what students should know in English and math from kindergarten through high school. But two candidates say they don't support the initiative, creating a division among the candidates that University of Mary Washington professor Stephen Farnsworth says could be helpful to voters.
"One of the key constituencies that are very likely to turnout in a primary are educators. And there are some teachers opposed to Common Core. This is a chance to connect with that segment of a very likely to participate part of the Democratic primary electorate," he says.
When asked about Common Core during a recent debate, two candidates said they did not support the standards, which Virginia has opted against using — Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and state Senator Adam Ebbin.
"I can't say that I would vote to require it for the entire country. It works well for some areas but in Virginia we seem to be doing quite well without it," said Ebbin.
Back in 2002, Virginia education officials created a system known as the Standards of Learning. Euille and Ebbin say they believe that system is working and they don't want to undermine it by imposing a federal system.
The other eight candidates in the race disagree, arguing that Common Core would improve education across the country. One of them, Don Beyer, was lieutenant governor when state leaders were debating the issue back in the 1990s.
"I don't have enormous amount of respect for the SOL system in Virginia. There is way too much teaching to the test. Happily in this General Assembly session, they rolled back the number of standardized tests base on SOL," he says.
Democratic voters will have the final say next month when they select one of the candidates for the eighth congressional district, which stretches from McLean to Mason Neck.