Nobody likes to be told their children are overrated – especially if it is true.

Edward Luce:

Finally, there are Mr Duncan’s angry suburban mothers. They deserve sympathy. Nobody with a child in a US public school would disagree that their children are sitting far too many tests yet learning far less than they ought to be.

The answer, of course, is to have fewer and better tests and to give teachers the time resources to do them properly. In return, they should give up life-long tenure and accept merit-based pay. That is where a well-functioning political system would arrive. Alas, at current levels of polarisation, this is one test it is likely to fail. What will become of US schools reform? Here is a multiple choice test for the attentive FT reader. Will US politics a) improve the common core, b) jettison it, or c) indulge in a barrage of mutual point-scoring that fails America’s children? No conferring please.