Three Exit Strategies from the Common Core for State Leadership

Good stuff from Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation:

State leaders who believe that previous state leaders have surrendered control of their standards-setting authority to national organizations and Washington have an exit strategy they can pursue. States should consider the following three strategies:

  1. Determine how the decision was made to cede the state’s standard-setting authority. States can exit from the national standards overreach by first determining which state entity agreed to adopt the Common Core State Standards. For most states, the state board of education is the body that made the decision.
  2. Prohibit new spending for standards implementation. State leaders should request an independent cost analysis of national standards adoption to inform taxpayers about the short-term and long-term costs of the overhaul.
  3. Determine how to reverse course. The rushed adoption of the Common Core in many cases preceded the election of 2010, which brought in new governors, legislators, and board members. Newly elected conservative leaders should be concerned about the authority handed to centralizers by their predecessors and investigate how to bring standards and curriculum control back into the hands of state leaders.

The movement to nationalize the content taught in local schools is a challenge to educational freedom in America that is costly in terms of liberty, not to mention dollars. State leaders are right to be cautious about the national standards push and should resist this latest federal overreach.

American Principles in Action Issues Press Release on SC Vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           CONTACT: Jameson Cunningham

February 29, 2012                                             Shirley & Banister Public Affairs



Bipartisan Vote to Restore South Carolina’s Parental Authority over their Children’s Education

American Principles Project Praises Sen. Fair’s Leadership to

Combat Government Mandates

Washington, DC – Today, American Principles in Action (APIA) praised the South Carolina Senate Education Committee’s bipartisan vote to further study the national Common Core Standards and Senator Mike Fair’s bill, S.604, which would revoke the state’s participation in the Common Core program and restore the authority of South Carolinians to decide what their children learn.

“Today, the Senate Education Committee demonstrated its commitment to the families and children of South Carolina,” said Joe Mack, APIA’s South Carolina director.  “The federal government and special interests foisted the Common Core on South Carolina without giving the people or their elected representatives a meaningful opportunity to consider its harmful consequences.”

“I am delighted that the Senators have decided to step back and get more information on this important issue,” said Senator Fair.  “Before we surrender control of our classrooms to outside parties, we need to have an open and transparent debate so we can understand what we’re getting into.”

American Principles in Action is a 501 c(4) advocacy group associated with American Principles Project, a 501 c (3) nonprofit dedicated to returning the United States to its founding principles.

For further information, please contact Jameson Cunningham or Dan Wilson with Shirley & Banister Public Affairs at (703) 739-5920 or (800) 536-5920.


South Carolina Education Committee Vote Calls for Common Core Scrutiny

State Senator Mike Fair

This morning, the full South Carolina Education Committee delivered a bipartisan vote that called for additional scrutiny of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

On Saturday, State Senator Mike Fair had published a Greenville News op-ed (available only to subscribers) that stated, in part:

“But if the federal government didn’t create Common Core, how is this a federal takeover? Simple — the Department of Education is funding the development of the national tests aligned with Common Core.

Even Common Core proponents admit that whoever controls the test will, for all practical purposes, control what must be taught in the classroom. And once Common Core is implemented, no one in this state will have the power to change any standard, instead, power will reside with anonymous bureaucrats in Washington.

The Legislature never had a chance to review Common Core because the feds timed their deadlines for adopting them to fall when the Legislature wasn’t in session. So, to qualify for a shot at Race to the Top money in 2010, the (previous) state superintendent and the (previous) governor had to agree to adopt Common Core — standards that had not even been published yet.

Senator Fair, a leader on the education committee, is quite right in pointing out that the standards were implemented with an utter lack of democratic or legislative scrutiny.

This bipartisan vote in South Carolina indicates that legislators of both parties feel they should conduct a thorough analysis of an effort to move decision-making from Columbia, SC to Washington, DC.

South Carolina is leading the way to shine democratic scrutiny on the Common Core Standards.  The bipartisan support for an open democratic debate in the Education Committee should be commended.

Heritage Foundation's Lindsey Burke Hits Standards

On a piece for CNN, Heritage Foundation Lindsey Burke expert says:

“President Obama discussed the standards issue in his State of the Union address. He made it sound so easy and inconsequential, like something a timeshare company might say: ‘For less than 1% of what our nation spends on education …’ But instead of ending with … ‘you too can own a little piece of Boca Raton,’ the president went on to say that he had ‘convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teachers and learning.’

“Convinced” is an interesting choice of words. The Obama administration is convincing states to adopt his preferred policies by offering waivers for a law that everyone agrees is flawed. He convinced many states to adopt national standards and tests by dangling $4.35 billion in Race to the Top money in front of them during a time when state budgets were tight.

In fact, the Pioneer Institute in Massachusetts has a new report that suggests the Department of Education is exceeding its statutory boundaries by issuing the strings-attached waivers, particularly as they pertain to standards and assessments.”

Read the rest of that article here.

In a separate post on the Heritage Foundation web site, she notes that South Carolina is leading the state-level insurgency against the standards and provides Heritage Foundation analysis and resources on that fight.

That post can be read here.


Salt Lake Tribune: Anti-Common Core Fight Brewing in Utah

“Lawmakers plan to discuss Wednesday formally asking state education leaders to reconsider their adoption of Common Core academic standards.

The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to hear SCR13, a resolution in which the governor and Legislature would ask the state school board to reconsider its 2010 decision to adopt the Common Core standards. The math and language arts standards, developed as part of a states-led initiative, aim to improve college and career readiness. The standards outline what concepts students should learn in each grade.”

Read the whole article here.

Jim Stergios Notes Duncan Deviation Into the Danger Zone

A sharp-minded clip from the recent Rock the Schoolhouse blog post at the Boston Globe:

In addition to the lagging time to grasp the real policy questions before them, the past three years have brought a sea-change in the political landscape. The 2010 elections changed the make-up of state legislatures dramatically, with a greater number of fiscal conservatives who look warily at unfunded federal mandates and overreach. With the new conditions, never approved by Congress, that Sec. Duncan is advancing, there is a growing realization among state legislators that the national standards are not truly voluntary. Even a stalwart supporter of a big USDOE like Mike Petrilli of the DC-based Fordham Institute recognizes that with the No Child Left Behind waivers Sec. Duncan:

“seems compelled to attach mandates to his forthcoming NCLB waivers that will require adoption of the Common Core standards.No, his team won’t mention the Common Core, but everybody knows that’s what he’s talking about when he calls for “college and career-ready standards.”

Fearful of stoking a backlash that will “lose many of the states that have already signed on,” Petrilli in his blog is reduced to begging Sec. Duncan not to overreach:

“Walk away from this one, Mr. Secretary. Please, those of us who support the Common Core are begging you.”

The full post by Jim Stergios (well worth reading) can be found here.

Arne Duncan Loses Temper, Deviates from Backroom Strategy

Arne Duncan has made a strategic mistake

Shane and many others have noted that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was attempting to bully South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in his most recent statement:

“The idea that the Common Core standards are nationally-imposed is a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy. The Common Core academic standards were both developed and adopted by the states, and they have widespread bipartisan support. GOP leaders like Jeb Bush and governors Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, and Bill Haslam have supported the Common Core standards because they realize states must stop dummying down academic standards and lying about the performance of children and schools. In fact, South Carolina lowered the bar for proficiency in English and mathematics faster than any state in the country from 2005 to 2009, according to research by the National Center for Education Statistics.

“That’s not good for children, parents, or teachers. I hope South Carolina lawmakers will heed the voices of teachers who supported South Carolina’s decision to stop lowering academic standards and set a higher bar for success. And I hope lawmakers will continue to support the state’s decision to raise standards, with the goal of making every child college- and career-ready in today’s knowledge economy.”

He essentially disses Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Mike Fair, and the entire South Carolina education establishment from daring to question the Common Core.

This is a strategic mistake.

Thus far, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has operated in backrooms, making grants, holding events, utilizing trade associations, and generally avoiding political debate.

It is unlikely that national standards, national assessments, the necessity of conforming curricula to national assessments mandating a pseudo-national curriculum, data collection, and data distribution would be popular with the electorate-at-large.  Most Americans believe public schools should be accountable to parents and local communities rather than Washington bureaucrats, special interests, and non-democratic trade associations.  That is why the entire Race to the Top process proceeded without the requirement for a single democratic vote of Congress, state legislatures, or local school boards.

Even the supposed Republican supporters of the Common Core such as Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, and Bill Haslam have never been briefed on the full-fledged agenda by any members of the Truth in American Education coalition.

The last thing Secretary Duncan should desire is to create a polarized political fight that would draw national scrutiny.  But that is exactly what an open confrontation with Governor Haley is likely to do.

Mr. Duncan has deviated from strategy, inviting a political fight with Governor Haley.

Someone should have informed Mr. Duncan that he should hold his temper since his elitist agenda was more suited to the backroom than to the democratic public square.

Arne Duncan and South Carolina

Education Secretary Arne Duncan demonstrates the normal level of tolerance we’ve come to expect the Obama administration to show when a state doesn’t do what they want.  Some in South Carolina don’t want to play ball with the Common Core State Standards so he maligns their educational system.  Greg Foster blogging over at Jay P. Greene’s blog had this to say:

The U.S. Department of Education is not pressuring states to adopt Common Core. However, any state that takes action to resist Common Core will be immediately singled out by the Education Secretary for an extremely harsh public denunciation of its education system – which will obviously make it effectively impossible for the Department to look favorably upon that state when doling out grants and waivers for the foreseeable future.

I think he’s just acting like a bully.  Wait, don’t they have a program for that?

Originally posted at American Principles in Action

Jay Matthews Praises Virginia for Rejecting the Common Core

Washington Post Columnist Jay Matthews

In September, Washington Post columnist, education reformer, and New York Times best-selling author Jay Matthews was one of the first out of the gate to criticize the national standards movement:

“Despite my many bets to the contrary, the movement for national learning standards still lives. More than 40 states (including Maryland, but not Virginia) plus the District have enlisted. They are executing plans for instruction in all grades and, eventually, common assessments in math and English language arts.

It sounds great. But it won’t help and won’t work. Such specific standards stifle creativity and conflict with a two-century American preference for local decision-making about schools.”

Now, with the new Brookings Institute report out on the inadequacy of the Standards, Mr. Matthews again laces into the new national education standards:

“Virginia, take a bow.

While Maryland, 44 other states and the District are spending billions of dollars to install new national standards for their schools, Virginia has stuck with the standards it has.  Mounting evidence shows Virginia is right, and the others wrong.”

He concludes with a flourish:

“I have interviewed hundreds of teachers who significantly raised student achievement. Not one has ever said it was because of great state learning standards. Good curricula help, but high-minded, numbingly detailed standards don’t produce them. How teachers are trained and supported in the classroom is what matters, even in states as enlightened as Virginia.”

IN Common Core Investigation Resolution Passes Committee

Scott Schneider has been fighting for democratic dialogue

Indiana State Senator Scott Schneider, an education reformer in Indiana, has been a leader in fighting to ensure that the Indiana legislature gets input into the decision of whether to adopt the Common Core Standards.

He called a hearing to investigate the Common Core Standards.  Experts testified at the overwhelming cost, content, and legal issues associated with the Common Core.

Senator Schneider, believing the issue deserved legislative input, drafted a resolution that calls for the investigation of the Common Core by a study committee:

“Indiana has long been acknowledged nationally for having high education standards and many are concerned that moving to Common Core State Standards would be a significant step away from the expectations we currently have in math and English,” Schneider said. “It’s my hope the study committee will thoroughly examine national standards compared to locally developed state standards to ensure we are not going backwards.”

Senate Resolution 38, which passed out of committee by a vote of 10-0, calls on the Legislative Council to establish an interim study committee to examine:
•    Implementation of the recently adopted Common Core State Standards in Indiana
•    Appropriateness of adopting future Common Core State Standards for Hoosier students
•    Whether or not the Common Core State Standards are at least as rigorous as Indiana’s nationally recognized standards
•    If there is any impact from national standards to locally developed standards

“Many national subject matter experts in math and English agree Indiana’s current standards, established as a result of input from parents, teachers and education leaders in their respected fields of expertise, are higher than the Common Core State Standards’.  But with very little public input or knowledge our education leaders voted to lower the bar by switching to the Common Core. I find this unacceptable and believe Hoosiers expect more of our education system.”

The resolution, having sailed unanimously through the committee, now passes to the full Indiana Senate for consideration.

Senator Schneider deserves to be congratulated for being an effective voice demanding that the Common Core Standards should be subjected to a full-fledged evidence-based democratic debate.  This sort of debate will shine the light of truth on what has been thus far a backroom, prohibitively expensive, undemocratic, special interest-driven, mediocrity-laden rush to nationalize education policy.