October 3 2012

Common Core Hoo-Hah

Vicki E. Alger

The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke has a great analysis against nationalized Common Core Standards. As she writes:

Federal intervention into education has been a growing problem over the past four-and-a-half decades and is being supersized by the Obama Administration’s current efforts to push states to nationalize their standards, tests, and, ultimately, curriculum. … National standards would force parents and taxpayers to surrender one of their most powerful tools for improving their schools: control of academic content, standards, and testing. Moreover, a national criterion-referenced test will inevitably lead to a national curriculum—a further misalignment of means and ends in education intended to equip self-governing citizens for liberty, and not a prospect most Americans would embrace. …

The federal government has indeed been incentivizing states to nationalize standards and assessments through the Common Core. More than $4 billion in “stimulus” funding was offered via Race to the Top to states that agreed to adopt national standards. No Child Left Behind waivers are being offered on the condition that states adopt the standards, and the federal government is directly financing the corresponding national tests. …

Washington is just a 10 percent stakeholder in education funding. States and local school districts finance 90 percent of the cost of educating children. Nationalizing standards, assessments, and curriculum would grow the federal government’s already inflated intervention to new levels while disempowering parents, teachers, and local school leaders. Policymakers at all levels should work to prevent this latest federal overreach.

This advice is spot on.

It’s also worth remembering that the federal government has no constitutional authority over schools. The feds are also expressly forbidden under the very No Child Left Behind Act they’re now exploiting (originally enacted in 1965 as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or ESEA) to control “curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution or school system.” (See p. 57 here.) No amount of bribing states with the very federal funding states sent them in the first place can change this legislative and constitutional reality.

And let’s not forget a basic, practical question: what makes Common Core fans believe that federal control over testing will turn out any better than it has over the past decade? Specifically, how will this time be different from all the other expensive, dumbed down standards schemes that have mislead parents and diverted hard-earned taxpayer dollars to yet another failed federal education fad?

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