Sneaking under the media radar (or perhaps with their blessing) 45 of the 50 states have approved the federal program called Common Core Standards.
Common Core is a requirement to participate in the Race to the Top federal grant program; many states signed on without knowing what Common Core was. The federal government offered money to states who dropped the No Child Left Behind program in favor of their new Common Core. Standards were accepted and adopted by Governors and their State Board of Education. Implementation has begun quietly with little public debate or parental input.
In essence, Common Core is the federal government’s plan to control the K-12 education system in the US by nationalizing education, state-by-state.
In addition the federal government is developing more standardized tests to assess performance on the Common Core Standards. What’s even more troubling, is the federal government, is developing MORE standardized tests – tests that will supposedly assess performance on the Common Core Standards. In fact, the government is taking $330 million from its Race to the Top budget to develop national tests.
As the Common Core Curriculum is nearing implementation more educators and parents are becoming aware of the new program. There are many questions arising about the curriculum, the standards, and the Constitutionality of it:
- Quality of the Standards–Advocates for local control of education have warned about the dangers of federalizing state academic standards. What first was painted as a voluntary, state-led effort to modernize and standardize learning goals has transformed into a clear movement toward federally approved standards and nationally standardized tests. Already, officials in Florida, Georgia and Kentucky have reported lower scores since the implementation of the common core. Lost is state choice for education as they can only add 15% to the approved curriculum; 70% of all reading will be non-fiction, not classics and Algebra 1 is delayed from 8th to 9th grade. Some estimate US students are already two years behind other countries and math delays will hurt more.
- Voluntary Curriculum…or is it? The Standards/Assessment/Curriculum is a matrix, bound together. Standards alone won’t make a difference; you need curriculum, instruction, professional development and assessments that embody the standards. It is expected the majority of schools will eventually be convinced to use the curriculum to align with Standards and testing, removing control from state departments of education. Most classic literature will be replaced by “informational texts” such as technical manuals.
- Teaching Style doesn’t consider the individual child or school– Pushing teachers to teach “knowledge” doesn’t consider the individual child. Better teaching looks at student growth, starting from where the students are, seeing them as individuals. All public funded schools (including charter schools) are included in the mandate. Many charter schools take pride in their ability to meet individual learning styles.
- Costs Open-Ended & Unfunded Mandates—The program is an unfunded mandate. Many states did not investigate the cost for implementation, administrative & teacher training, testing, text books, technology (online testing, hardware, software, digital curriculum and data tracking)..
- Federal versus State—The US Constitution does not refer to education. Educational decisions are deferred to the states. Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina said, “Just as we should not relinquish control of education to the federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states.” Through default, the Common Core program places education decisions in the hands of the Federal Government.
- Collecting Student Data—States will assist the larger federal goal of the long term tracking of a child from birth to workforce by tracking student performance and “other” data then providing it to the Departments of Education, Homeland Security and Labor.
There is much more. You can read about the curriculum, the standards, when your state will begin implementing them and how it may impact your children at the Core Standards website.
The good news is: Homeschooling is still an option. At least it is today.