Thursday, May 30, 2013

Common Core Challenges

In the Weekly Standard, Jamie Gass and Jim Stergios cast a skeptical eye on Common Core.  They note some of the centralizing tendencies of this initiative:
The Department of Education then made adopting Common Core a condition for waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act’s accountability provisions, even though the national standards have never been approved by Congress and are, in fact, expressly prohibited by the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which defined the federal government’s role in K-12 education, the 1970 General Education Provisions Act, and the 1979 law establishing the U.S. Department of Education.
It is worth reminding our friends who call it a conservative policy that Common Core would have been a bridge too far even for President Johnson, who signed the ESEA, and President Carter, who signed the law creating the federal Department of Education.  As syndicated columnist George Will wrote last year about the push for Common Core, “Here again laws are cobwebs. As government becomes bigger, it becomes more lawless.”
The problems with what is now federal policy are not lost on state and local leaders.  In just the past few weeks, Indiana lawmakers agreed to pause implementation of Common Core.  Ditto in Pennsylvania. Michigan’s House of Representatives voted to defund the effort.  And the national standards are under fire in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah.
Nationally, the Republican National Committee recently adopted an anti-Common Core resolution, but opposition is bipartisan.  Many Democrats are troubled that Common Core is not based on research and ignores too much of what we know about how students learn.  American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten recently told the Washington Post, “Common Core is in trouble … There is a serious backlash in lots of different ways, on the right and on the left.”
The backlash is richly deserved.  The Common Core standards are academically inferior to the standards they replaced in high performing states; and they ignore empirical lessons of how states like Massachusetts achieved historic successes.  Neither local leaders nor their constituents like having policies force fed by Washington, especially when the new requirements amount to a massive, and possibly illegal, unfunded mandate.  Common Core’s troubles are just beginning.

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