As the New Year approaches, now is the time to make resolutions about what we should change in 2014. As most legislative sessions begin in January, it’s a good time for lawmakers and their constituents to resolve to ditch the national education goals and tests called Common Core.
Many seem to believe Common Core justifies a massive expansion of unaccountable bureaucracy and government coercion at all levels. We hear repeatedly from presidency sniffers such as Jeb Bush and power sniffers like Education Secretary Arne Duncan that Common Core will transform U.S. schools into Never-Neverland, where children are daily administered strong doses of something called “rigor” and stewed in vague notions of “critical thinking.”
Common Core certainly will transform the nation’s schools. Our right to representative government has been blown away by a national education control system created behind closed doors by powerbrokers in D.C. nonprofit organizations that never have improved one school and typically never taught one student. According to the agreements governors signed to start Common Core (although no governor has authority over state education systems without the consent of their legislatures), the initiative consists of standards and tests. The two national Common Core tests are exclusively funded by the federal government, and the feds have established a review panel to oversee those tests down to the very questions, even though three federal laws prohibit the federal government from influencing or controlling tests and curriculum.
Common Coreniks have faith in the apparatus they’ve created like some people believe in UFOs or the Illuminati. Thirty years of scientific research, however, shows education monopolists in both parties are wrong to put their faith in standards and tests as a means to provide “accountability” without doing the hard work to empower families by creating competition among schools.
Education standards do not improve student achievement, according to Brookings Institution research. Common Core is nothing but a bundle of consultant-generated theories that never have shown themselves effective (or shown themselves at all) in any classroom, let alone every classroom. Promising Common Core will produce a renaissance of literary knowledge and love for America’s Founders because one line in it says kids should read unspecified “founding documents” is like promising takeovers of foreign countries will generate a stable Middle East. In fact, Common Core is more likely to do the opposite of what is being promised—it recommends students read just the Bill of Rights, not the Constitution, and suggests violently anti-Constitution modern scholarship to offer kids their first and presumably only in-school encounter with that text.
The education monopolists argue “accountability” means not giving parents power to make decisions about where their child will attend school, but instead tying more and more policies to tests now controlled by the federal government. Tests now influence school funding, teacher evaluations, hiring and firing, school takeovers, school grades, and more. And these tests must be all online, which is so expensive the Obama administration is raising everyone’s phone taxes to give schools more broadband subsidies.
Moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas have been fed lines for years about how the nation’s elites have only our best interests at heart while they sell our children into debt and regulatory slavery to fund their self-perpetuating fantasies. Families and some lawmakers around the nation are finally saying, enough!
Common Core tests will hit the nation’s schools in the 2014–15 school year. This spring is the last chance for states to back away, which they should resolve to do as fast as possible.
Joy Pullmann ([email protected]) is an education research fellow at The Heartland Institute and a 2013 Novak journalism fellow.