How do we teach children beauty? How do we teach children to care? How do we make this a central piece of growing our democracy through the education taking place in our school? These questions present a challenge for those of us looking to peel back the role of schools to their core, their true common core. Over the last few years though, those tuned into the challenge of making education different for the next generation have been given a false choice as the Common Core State Standards have rolled into the DNA of public schools across the country. The forced choices became about what teaching in the Common Core era means and how do we teach in the Common Core era, while the essential choices are about deciding whether we have the right set of learnings for our students and asking whether the Common Core State Standards make sense for us at all or whether we should be pursuing another trajectory for all of our learners that focuses on building curiosity, empathy, and creation.