Last year wasn’t a good year for Common Core, and the myth-makers are already hard at work publishing some new spin, but first let’s review what we’ve learned over the past five years. Common Core national standards are:
- Costly (here, here, and here)
- Weak (here and here)
- Intrusive (here)
- Politicized (here)
- Anything but “voluntary” (here, here, here, here, here, and here)
- Unconstitutional (here, here, here, here, and here)
In short, the more parents and taxpayers learn about it, the less they like it, and a growing number of states are looking for the nearest exit, including Indiana, along with South Carolina, Missouri, and Oklahoma. States considering ditching the national standards also include Tennessee and Mississippi, and several more states are dumping their membership in taxpayer-subsidized Common Core testing consortia (here and here).
Time will tell just how earnest state elected officials are about restoring local control over education, but for now it seems fair to say that Common Core’s in trouble.
So members of the Common Core boosters club are changing tactics.
In their Washington Post editorial last month, Thomas B. Fordham Institute President Michael J. Petrilli and the Institute’s national policy director Michael Brickman argue that replacing Common Core “state” standards with better ones would be virtually “impossible.” Why?
…because Common Core, though not perfect, represents a good-faith effort to incorporate the current evidence of what students need to know and do to succeed in credit-bearing courses in college or to land a good-paying job — and the milestones younger students need to pass to reach those goals. …
Starting from scratch, on the other hand, pulls the rug out from under educators who have spent almost five years implementing Common Core in their classrooms.
Thankfully, Sandra Stotsky sets the record straight. As Strauss explains:
While serving as senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999-2003, she was instrumental in developing one of the country’s strongest sets of academic standards for K-12 students as well as the strongest academic standards and licensure tests for prospective teachers. She served as the English language arts expert on the National Validation Committee for the Common Core State Systemic Initiative (2009-2010), which she has strongly critiqued.
Stotsky aptly dismisses Petrilli and Brickman’s “impossible” claim, stating:
Their claims have no legs to stand on.
Massachusetts once had standards that looked nothing like Common Core, were judged to be among the best in the country, and have an empirical record of contributing to academic gains for all Bay State students. …
Contrary to the implication by Petrilli and Brickman that first-rate standards are not easy to implement, I know that it was easy to implement the Massachusetts 2001 English language arts and 2000 mathematics standards. How do I know? Because I was there. Bay State teachers did not moan and groan after these standards were officially approved by a Board of Education chaired by currently incoming Secretary of Education James Peyser. They simply implemented them without a fuss. …
Why don’t Fordham Institute’s Petrilli and Brickman, or Common Core defender Jeb Bush, ask each Department of Education or Department of Public Instruction in each state to send out a survey to all the state’s English, mathematics, and science teachers just asking for anonymous suggestions on how to revise the state’s Common Core-based standards. We would soon find out how welcome a different set of standards would be.
State citizens, taxpayers, and elected officials should not allow themselves to be cowed by the Common Core bullies.
Want better standards? Look to successful states like Massachusetts—not Washington bureaucrats and special interest groups.
[A previous version of the post appeared on the Independent Institute’s Beacon Blog here.]