Last night I attended a forum on Common Core at the Worcester Public Library. The forum was sponsored by the Back to Basics Caucus, a coalition of school committee members from across Massachusetts. The speakers were Sandra Stotsky, an ELA Curriculum Author, and Ted Rebarber, a Costs and Accountability Expert.
Common Core is a controversial initiative to align curriculum standards among all 50 states. It is being attacked from both the left and the right for many reasons, but mainly because it is seen as a top down Federal takeover of state and local education programs. It is a “one size fits all” curriculum.
Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal posted an article by James Gass and Charles Chieppo (I have not linked to the article because it is subscribers only) entitled, “Common Core Education Is Uncommonly Inadequate.” The story they tell hits very close to home–it’s about Massachusetts, where I live and sent my children to school.
The article in the Wall Street Journal cites the changes in Massachusetts education during the 1990’s. Education in the state was reformed in 1993, and SAT scores rose for thirteen consecutive years. In 2005 Massachusetts scored best in the nation in all grades and categories on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. They have repeated that performance every time they have taken the test. Massachusetts is doing very well educationally right now.
In 2010 Massachusetts joined Common Core, which is supposed to be fully implemented by Spring of 2014. Common Core has some serious problems–scholastically and legally.
The Wall Street Journal states:
…Three federal laws explicitly prohibit the U.S. government from directing, supervising or controlling any nationalized standards, testing or curriculum. Yet Race to the Top, a federal education grant competition that dangled $4.35 billion in front of states, favored applications that adopted Common Core. The Education Department subsequently awarded $362 million to fund two national assessments and a “model curriculum” that is “aligned with” Common Core.
Academically the standards for Common Core are lower than those currently in effect in Massachusetts–so why in the world would we want to change? Therein lies the question.
The Heritage Foundation posts a picture that is worth a thousand words:
The article at the Heritage Foundation concludes:
American education is at a crossroads: One path leads toward further centralization and greater federal intervention. The other path leads toward robust education choice, including school choice and choice in curricula.
Common Core takes the path toward centralization, and state leaders should seize the moment to resist this latest federal overreach. National standards and tests are a challenge to educational freedom in America, and state and local leaders who believe in limited government should resist them.
Common Core was put together without the input of the teachers who educate our children. Some of its backers are the Gates Foundation and the Pearson company.
At the present time there are no reliable cost estimates for the change to Common Core. There is no cost-benefit analysis.
The thought of putting all local education under the control of Washington is scary. We have local school committees that are elected–they are accountable to the voters. We need to make sure that the local school committees control local education. Anything else is destined for failure.