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Letter to the Editor: What Everyone Should Know About Common Core


Dear Editor,

Our State of Florida needs to pause and examine Common Core so the legislators, parents and school official can better understand what Common Core Standards will do to the education and future of Florida’s children. We need some legal experts to review the standards and decide if they violate the state constitution. Common Core is education without Representation.

Common Core Initiative

In the wake of No Child Left Behind’s failure, many education policymakers have amplified the call for national academic standards. Proponents of national standards argue that it makes no sense for states to have differing curricula standards when our globalized economy demands everyone to have the same fundamental education. The Common Core State Standards Initiative was created in 2009 to heed this call for national standards, describing itself as a supposedly “state-led effort” coordinated by the Nation Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. (1)

The Common Core standards amount to a federal mandate, with Washington offering strong incentives for states to adopt these national standards. The Department of Education under President Obama’s leadership has awarded selected states up to $75 million in Race to the Top. (3)

Grants and relief from No Child Left Behind under the condition that they adopt Common core-two deals that almost seem too good to pass up. (2)

Surrendering Local Control

The standards are copyrighted by Washington, D.C. trade groups funded by the federal government and the Gates Foundation. They are required to be adopted word for word. The federal government is paying for and overseeing the development of the national tests and model curriculum. Although theoretically, districts can choose their own curriculum, given the high stakes testing will determine district funding, student graduation, and teacher pay and tenure, is for more likely teachers and districts will choose this federally funded model curriculum, resulting in a de facto national curriculum. If the federal government is funding it and the curriculum too then why do we need a school board?

Raising Standards Won’t Raise Achievement

Common Core’s catch is that the federal government has a long history of mismanaging education, having required states to raise their academic standards at least five times over the last two decades with little success. President Bill Clinton’s Goals 2000, President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, and president Barack Obama´s Race to the Top all asked states to raise their standards, and the National Assessment of Educational progress (NAEP) has subsequently found no significant improvement in student achievement. (3) 

Although Common core has slight structural differences from these past failures, it nevertheless adopts the same failed strategy of trying to reform education by simply raising academic standards, instead of doing the hard work of going school by school to restructure failing system. Thus, it is sue to reap the same fruitless results since raising standards in the past has not been proven to raise student achievement.

This point has been proven not just historically by the failure of federal education programs but statistically as well by numerous think tanks and the Department of Education.  One 2009 study by Grover “Russ” Whitehurst of the Bookings Institution investigated whether the difficulty of states’ standards as judged by the American  Federation of Teachers and Fordham Foundation correlation found in any grade or ethnicity categories whatsoever. Even the federal government got the same result in 2006, with the National Center for Education Statistics failing to find a correlation between high standards and high student achievement. (4)

Ignoring State Concerns for National Uniformity

Another problem with Common Core is its laudable goal of decreasing inequality in student achievement comes at the expense of local control and concerns. The United States’ federalist structure has been cherished by Americans for centuries because it limits federal power in favor of allowing states to provide their citizens more efficient services tailored to local needs. Common Core’s one-size-fits-all approach to education ignores local problems that state and city governments are more qualified to address than federal bureaucrats thousands of miles away.

The Brooking Institution again powerfully makes this point in their 2012 Brown Center Report on American Education. (8) Brooking found that “most variation on NAEP occurs within states not between them.” In plain English, student achievement gaps are wider within states than between them. Thus, Common Core completely ignores a state’s internal inequalities in favor of uniform poor achievement across the nation.

The Cost of Ineffectiveness

Common Core is extremely expensive as well, at an estimated cost of $15.8 Billion in the first seven years alone. (9) One joint study by the Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project fund that most states haven’t sufficiently estimated the costs of implementing these demanding standards. To give no example of its bloated price tag, students are required to take a standardized test by computer, requiring schools to maintain expensive labs instead of proctor these tests traditionally on paper.

Cc: American for Prosperity Foundation’s “Need to know” (2012)
1. Common Core State Standards Initiative, “About the Standards” (Online at http://www.common corestandards.org/about-there-is-still-time)
2. U.S, Department of Education, “Race to the Top Executive Summary” (November 2009)
3. Michael Yudim, “AMO Waiver Guidance” (Febuary 2012)
4. National Assessment of Education Progress, “The Nation’s Report Card: Trends in Academic Progress in Reading and Mathematice 2008” (April 2009 )
5. Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, “Don’t Forget Curriculum,” (October 2009)
6. National Center for Education Statistics, “Mapping 2005 State Proficiency Standards Onto the NAEP Scales”(June2007)
7.  Brookings Institution, 2012 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning, Vol. lll No.1 (February 2012)
8. Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project, National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards, No.82(February 2012)


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