The Orange County Register published a smart editorial this week. It makes the point that most of the opponents of Common Core agree with: this is not about whether the standards are being lowered for some states and raised for others, or any other academic argument. This is about avoiding getting sucked into the central planning vortex. Below is a good chunk of that editorial. Read the rest at this link:
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
May 31, 2013
Classroom no place for central planning
Common Core not right path for raising performance of American students.
We’re hopeful that the recent spate of scandals out of Washington will cause more Americans to think twice before ceding more authority to government. If there’s any good to be derived from the revelations of misconduct at the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department, it’s an increased recognition that the state can’t be blindly trusted to discharge its fiduciary duties to its citizens.
There is perhaps no issue where this insight is as valuable as education. Government involvement in our children’s schools represents a tremendous concession of sovereignty. By allowing the state to set the parameters of what children learn in their formative years, we grant government sweeping influence to form their character and shape their understanding of the world. This is a natural byproduct of widespread public education. We can, however, keep it from getting worse.
The first step is to resist Common Core, a set of nationwide K-12 curricular standards developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Thus far, 45 states, including California, have signed on to Common Core.
…The problem… is the centralization of power that Common Core introduces. Defenders of the program will note that states are not mandated to adopt Common Core – which is true only in the most technical of senses. The Department of Education has already made adoption of the program a factor for receiving grants from the Race to the Top program, as well as a condition of receiving waivers from No Child Left Behind. It’s a virtual certainty that the amount of federal money tied to Common Core will only increase. What Washington can’t get through coercion, it can usually achieve through bribery.
We’ve long insisted that one of the keys to meaningful education reform is decentralizing power. As often as possible, decision-making should devolve to parents, teachers, and state and local authorities. When it comes to shaping America’s next generation of citizens, one size cannot fit all. Education ought to be our children’s first introduction to the marketplace of ideas, not to a government monopoly.
We applaud the impulse to raise the quality of the nation’s schools – but such efforts should be undertaken freely and subject to competition in the marketplace. Central planning is always inefficient and dangerous. We find it doubly so with education.