Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The recent support of Common Core national education standards by many is misguided. The Obama administration (Race to the Top) has been involved in “bait and switch.”
The Common Core effort, originally spearheaded by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, became quickly entangled with Washington.
Billions in federal funding were used to create incentives for states to adopt the standards, yet the effort has left state taxpayers to pick up the tab for their implementation, conservatively estimated to cost more than $16 billion.
The constitutional authority for education rests with states and localities, and ultimately with parents — not the federal government. The federal government has crossed this line in the past, but dictating curriculum content is a major new breach that represents a critical level of centralization and a major setback for parental rights.
Adopting Common Core national standards and tests surrenders control of the content taught in local schools to distant national organizations and bureaucrats in Washington.
It is the antithesis of reform that would put control of education in the hands of those closest to the student: local school leaders and parents.
But it is not too late for state leaders to regain control of the content taught in their local schools. States should take immediate steps to reject the nationalization of standards and tests — and, ultimately, curricula — and work to improve outcomes through reforms to state and local policy.
As a past chairman of the Math/Science Department at Walla Walla Community College, I am concerned about the reduced rigor that Common Core brings to education, especially in fuzzy math and science.
Former U.S. Department of Education official and mathematician Ze’ev Wurman notes that the math standards are deficient in several key areas.
Notably, the standards do not expect students to learn Algebra I by eighth grade, which both “revers(es) the most significant change in mathematics education in America in the last decade” and is “contrary to the practice of the highest-achieving nations.” Wurman argues that the Common Core national standards represent the “cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States” and that they fall short on these fronts:
“(T)he Common Core mathematics standards fail on clarity and rigor compared to better state standards and to those of high-achieving countries. They do not expect algebra to be taught in grade 8 and … their promise of college readiness rings hollow. Its college-readiness standards are below the admission requirement of most four-year state colleges.”