Common Core Standards are an attempt to put the same education content in classrooms all across America.
Stop at that sentence and do not take the argument any further, and there is already plenty of reason Alabama should reject them.
Do I think Common Core Standards are a coordinated attempt by the Obama administration and their allies to indoctrinate our children? I do not. But as conservatives, we should have a knee-jerk reaction to a centralized, one-size-fits-all approach to anything — much less something as important as education.
What the Obama Administration has done, however, is attach certain federal funding to the adoption of Common Core Standards. That’s why Governor Bentley publicly voiced his opposition to the State School Board’s decision to adopt them. Proponents say they are simply voluntary standards, but Senator Dick Brewbaker rightly pointed out that “the minute they started tying Race to the Top grants to compliance with common core, the voluntary part was over.”
We have a half-century of evidence that what the federal government funds, it controls. Conservatives going back to at least President Reagan have wanted to do away with the U.S. Department of Education. Their reasoning has been simple: the federal government’s record of improving education — to put it plainly — sucks.
We’ve tripled expenditures per pupil and outcomes have not improved. And now we are to believe that this latest effort create a uniform national education curriculum is actually going to help?
Alabama Conservatives have said for years that the education establishment and their affiliated entrenched special interest groups are holding us back. Yet when I ask some conservative legislators why they are apprehensive about repealing Common Core, their response is that members of the education establishment insist it is needed. This is, of course, the same education establishment that attacks them for passing the Accountability Act, protests charter schools and any other school choice measures, and generally works to stop any reform that bucks the status quo.
In recent years Alabama has made the most progress in reading in the entire history of NAP (National Assessment Program), which is a norm-referenced test that gives us a good idea how our students are progressing compared to students in other states. Alabama students have risen to about middle-of-the-pack nationally thanks to our current standards, which have allowed us progress quickly after being 49th or 50th for decades. We’re clearly heading in the right direction, but Common Core would actually reduce our current standards.
Proponents of Common Core say that more accountability is needed.
But Common Core creates vertical accountability with Washington when what we need is horizontal accountability with parents and teachers. That means more school choice — more policies that empower parents, not bureaucrats.
That’s exactly what Republicans did when they passed the Accountability Act. And that’s exactly what they will be doing if they repeal Common Core.
A bill to repeal Common Core Standards will reach the Senate floor this week, possibly as early as tomorrow. The House Education Committee is holding a public hearing on Wednesday to discuss the House version of the bill.
I encourage repeal advocates to stick to the arguments laid out above. And I encourage legislators to listen, and continue being the conservative champions you’ve proven yourselves to be.