Is Common Core Becoming Less Common?
Back in 2010, 45 states agreed to adopt a single set of requirements for what K-12 children should know in each grade in math and English. Approximately 80 percent of the public does not know about the Common Core education standards, which comprise one of the most comprehensive K-12 reform efforts in the nation.
Since then many questions and concerns have been raised by the public. According to a story in School Reform News, “Officials in at least a dozen states already have held public forums and introduced legislation to withdraw from Common Core, saying teachers, parents, and elected officials were not informed and involved beforehand, that nearly no state has estimated what the big shift will cost, and that expert reviews have stated Common Core is of poor academic quality.”
With so many unanswered questions regarding Common Core, Heartland will address that topic during its monthly Emerging Issues Conference Call on Wednesday, May 1 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Heartland Research Fellow Joy Pullmann will give an overview of the research she has done on Common Core and answer your questions. To RSVP, please email Robin Knox at [email protected] to make sure you receive all the information for the call.
If you’re interested in having Joy speak for your group, please contact Nikki Comerford at [email protected] or 312.377.4000 with the dates you are interested in, how many will be in attendance, and the location of your event.
This week’s edition of The Leaflet features research and commentary addressing defunding Common Core in Michigan, Tier 3 gasoline standards, online taxes, minimum wage, and medical device taxes.
Research & Commentary: Michigan Common Core
The Michigan legislature is considering in its 2014 budget a measure that would prohibit the state department of education from using public funds to implement Common Core, national education standards and tests in math and English that 45 states, including Michigan, have adopted. Another bill is in play that would withdraw Michigan from Common Core.
These bills make Michigan one of about a dozen states reconsidering Common Core. Some lawmakers, professors, consultants, and teachers argue this would take states a step backward, because Common Core is rigorous and internationally benchmarked. Pairing these standards with national tests funded exclusively by the federal government as enforcement, they say, will improve student achievement and accelerate innovation by creating a national market for education materials.
Those concerned about the Common Core first point out that no state, school district, or even school has ever used it before. The standards are entirely experimental. Because those on Common Core’s own validation committee were never given research demonstrating what Common Core demands of students will indeed improve student achievement, several refused to sign off on the project. The international benchmarking claim essentially consists of two sentences saying a handful of countries also require students to use evidence in their writing, rather than a thoughtful comparison of Common Core and its major points to international bests. And education standards experts say Common Core is at best mediocre, making it a massive waste of time and money for teachers and schools.
One of the central objections to Common Core, they note, is loss of state and local control and flexibility over what children will learn, even in private and home schools, since all major tests including college entrance exams are aligning to Common Core and these will feed into national student databases states are constructing. One set of national learning models cannot possibly accommodate 50 million children’s diverse learning needs.
Research & Commentary: Tier 3 Standards for Gasoline
EPA has proposed a new rule requiring gasoline refiners to reduce the sulfur content of their gasoline from 30 parts per million to 10 parts per million on an annual average basis by January 1, 2017. The rule is intended to reduce air pollution and cut smog.
Policy Analyst Taylor Smith writes, “Gasoline is already a heavily taxed, heavily regulated product that is essential to everyday life and business. Lawmakers should avoid adding costly new regulations to gasoline, especially for negligible environmental and health benefits, given the significant economic impacts of high gasoline prices.”
Research & Commentary: Online Taxes, Legislative Update
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been pushing a major online tax bill originally titled the Marketplace Fairness Act, bypassing the committee process. The proposal would expand states’ ability to force out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes for online and mail-order sales even if the seller has no physical presence in the state. The bill would give states a vast new power over retailers outside their borders, including the imposition of auditing requirements. States would be allowed to create their own unique definitions of how and when items are taxed, increasing confusion for out-of-state sellers.
Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans says there is no justification for allowing a state to charge sales taxes to residents of another state, as the latter have no political voice in the taxing state and receive no government benefits or services. Instead of forcing out-of-state businesses to serve as government tax collectors, Congress and state legislators should implement a sales tax system based on where the product was sold, known as an origin-based tax system. This would truly level the playing field, with both online and bricks-and-mortar retailers paying the same tax.
Research & Commentary: National Minimum Wage Hike
Budget & Tax
In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama proposed increasing the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour, with the stated goal of raising the incomes of millions of working families. Minimum wage laws attempt to create a minimum standard of living to protect the health and well-being of employees by mandating a base level of pay that employers are required to pay certain covered employees.
Opponents of minimum wage laws cite evidence the artificial wage hikes increase unemployment and poverty. When minimum wage laws require businesses to pay their workers higher wages, businesses have to make adjustments elsewhere to offset the increased costs in order to maintain profitability. These cuts lead to reduced hiring, fewer work hours for employees, diminished fringe benefits for employees, and higher prices for consumers.
Expect Higher Medical Costs, Less Research Because of Device Tax
In this article from The Heartlander digital magazine, Richard Morrison of the Tax Foundation discusses the federal medical device tax, which went into effect on January 1 of this year. The article examines a new analysis by the Tax Foundation that predicts the new tax will have an adverse effect on the medical device industry, consumers, and the economy.
“‘This tax will result in higher health care costs, which undermines the objective of the Affordable Care Act,’ said Tax Foundation economist Kyle Pomerleau. ‘It is also likely that this tax will adversely affect employment, innovation, and competition in the medical device industry, especially among small firms with slim margins.’
“In the short term, manufacturers will try to pass the tax on to consumers in the form of higher prices. In fact, earlier this year, some hospitals expressed alarm that medical device manufacturers are beginning to bill them for the cost of the excise tax.”