From its beginning, the Common Core State Standards initiative has flown under the radar. Its funding, its implementation, and the substance of the standards it proposes have received little public attention, but all of them are questionable.
What troubles me the most is how fast these standards were adopted and how little transparency there was in the process. Not one state legislature voted on the Common Core standards. In the forty-five states where they have been adopted, it was by an act of the governor, the state secretary of education, or the state board of education. The people most affected by this enormous policy change—parents and teachers—never had a chance to weigh in.
We have seen the failures of No Child Left Behind. Why would we hastily embrace a new set of national standards that further complicate education with little promise of improving our children’s chances at success?
The Home School Legal Defense Association points out that the U.S. Department of Education enticed states to jump on the Common Core train quickly by offering early adopters federal funds from the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program.
Diane Ravitch of NYU, a historian of education who has served as a policy analyst in both Republican and Democratic administrations, is a stern critic of Common Core. In a speech last January she voiced her concerns, which include the following:
- “From the outset, the Common Core standards were marked by the absence of public participation, transparency, or educator participation. In a democracy, transparency is crucial, because transparency and openness build trust. Those crucial ingredients were lacking.”
- “Some states—like Kentucky–adopted the Common Core standards sight unseen. Some—like Texas—refused to adopt them sight unseen. Some—like Massachusetts—adopted them even though their own standards were demonstrably better and had been proven over time.”
- “Early childhood educators are nearly unanimous in saying that no one who wrote the standards had any expertise in the education of very young children. More than 500 early childhood educators signed a joint statement complaining that the standards were developmentally inappropriate for children in the early grades. The standards, they said, emphasize academic skills and leave inadequate time for imaginative play.”
- “There is something about the Common Core standards and testing, about their demand for uniformity and standardization, that reeks of early twentieth century factory-line thinking. There is something about them that feels obsolete.”
Former Senator Rick Santorum is the author of Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works.
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