Push to Implement Common Core “Idiotic” “Without Real Scrutiny or Debate”

Three influential education policy experts penned an opinion piece for the New York Daily News in which they effectively explain why the “backlash” against Common Core standards “is now in full swing.” Former U.S. assistant secretary of education and Hoover Institute fellow Williamsom Evers joined CATO Institute scholar Neal McCluskey and one-time Massachusetts associate education commissioner Sandra Stotsky gave five compelling reasons why CCS needs to be set aside:

First, creation and adoption of these standards has violated the traditions of open debate and citizen control that are supposed to undergird public schooling.

Though preliminary drafts of the standards were released to the public, the standards were written behind closed doors by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers — private organizations — and copyrighted. There is also no public record of the meetings available.

Adoption was then strong-armed by the Obama administration via Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind waivers that the feds granted states.

Second, the Core claims to be “internationally benchmarked,” but supporters can’t name a country to which it is pegged. In addition, according to Stanford mathematician James Milgram, the math standards would put kids two years behind their top-scoring international peers by grade seven.

Third, there is little evidence that setting national standards yields superior outcomes. Supporters argue that most countries that beat us on international exams have national standards. True, but so do most countries that finish below us.

There is little deeper research on this, but what there is suggests that once you control for variables such as income and culture, national standards have no effect.

Fourth, our root problem isn’t poor standards, but bad political incentives. The groups with the most at stake in the education system will be most motivated to be involved in its politics, and those are the professional education associations, education schools, state and federal bureaucrats and other interests whose livelihoods come from it.

They are also more organized than parents, making it easier to exert pressure on school boards and legislatures. Combine these factors with their natural incentives — not to be forced to hit high bars — and too-low standards typically result.

Fifth, making standards uniform across the country reduces the benefits of competition between states and districts, which vie to attract residents and businesses. That stifles laboratories of democracy.

Most troubling of all, the Common Core will cripple individual choice, which is highly concerning because all children are unique and need different things. Supposedly autonomous charter schools, which already must use state standards, will become far more similar to one another.

Three true believers of Common Core sit on the task force convened by the Florida Board of Education to craft changes in the state’s school grade formula.  Commissioner Tony Bennett brought two staffers with him from Indiana in Will Krebs and Dale Chu. Will the three form a stonewall against Common Core being part of the conversation?



About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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2 Responses to Push to Implement Common Core “Idiotic” “Without Real Scrutiny or Debate”

  1. Terri says:

    Reblogged this on Planning 2 Learn and commented:
    I have never seen a reflection about the Common Core so succinct as this. During my MA class on Curriculum Design at Oxford Brookes, we discussed the value and appropriateness of America having a national curriculum like they do in England. My professor was surprized the US did not have a NC. However, when we discussed the size and diversity of our country, similar to Europe, it didn’t see necessary or appropriate. Something I learned was the unique powers and rights reserved for States…and I do wonder the lasting effects a national government tightly defining individual student learning, experiences, assessments will have.

    I am disappointed to learn that much of the development was behind closed doors and that our math standards are not high enough. I intend to look deeper into that.

  2. The US is moving to the common core much like Australia is moving toward national standards. I try and smile as I point out that the population of Australia is similar to the population of Illinois.

    No set of written outcomes will ever increase the likelihood that students will hit those outcomes. Research strongly indicates that the greatest influence on student learning is the quality of the teacher.

    That said, one of the problems in education is teacher isolationism. Teachers close their doors and teach in ways they think best- some ways yielding higher results than others. Unless schools have intentionally set up professional learning communities, groups of teachers within schools rarely discuss what is and what is not working within classrooms.

    What the common core accomplishes is that it gets teachers talking. When I look at the common core standards, they are standards to which I have been teaching in my international school for years. Most of them. Others I was glad to see. Standards new to me started me talking with my colleagues about the standards’ importance and how our current units of study might be modified to help students better achieve those standards.

    The tragedy comes when teachers start looking to text book companies for help. Tragedy also happens when we decide that the standards have to be all good or all bad. We have the opportunity to have professional discussions about important aspects of 21st century education.

    Regardless of who started them or how the ‘accountability’ folks poison them, the standards themselves are worth professional consideration as an impetus for ongoing professional development and the enhancement of existing units.

    Please don’t throw tomatoes 🙂

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