- Born from a war for independence, the United States of America has traditionally had a strong dislike of centralized government and oversight. So much so that the favor of state over federal power was written into the Bill of Rights. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
- Since 1780 when Thomas Jefferson codified the educational objectives for the nation's citizens (white males), public education in America has been the responsibility of states. Learning outcomes, teaching standards, and curriculum choices have been made at the state and local level.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 10.8% of K-12 education is funded by the federal government with programs such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Free Lunch program; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Head Start program; and support for federally mandated initiative such as Title IX, giving girls equal access to competitive sports.
Summary from the article below: "This targeting reflects the historical development of the Federal role in education as a kind of 'emergency response system,' a means of filling gaps in State and local support for education when critical national needs arise."
- On July 24, 2009, President Obama and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced the Race to the Top competitive grants. To be eligible, states had to adopt "internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the work place" (U.S Department of Education). In other words, to be eligible for these grants, states had to adopt the Common Core State Standards. After this announcement, all states that have chosen to adopt this initiative did so within two years.
- To qualify for part of the $435 million grant money earmarked for Race to the Top, states had to apply and demonstrate their commitment to adopting a nationalized learning objective framework known as Common Core. Also involved but not discussed in this article is national testing and national teacher evaluations that would be pegged in some degree to student test scores.
- Designed by the National Governor's Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers created and copyrighted standards for English Language Arts and math which are to be implemented fully by participating states by the 2014-15 school year. Or that's how the story goes. One young man in Tennessee researched Common Core and came up with some conclusions he found troubling and shared with the Knox County School Board Meeting on November 6, 2013.
- As of this viewing the video has over 1.9 million viewers.
School reformers like Jamie Vollmer and Diane Ravitch are concerned about standardized testing in general. Vollmer points out in his book "Schools Can't Do It Alone," that an educational model that is designed to create workers robs from our citizenry the joy of learning and discovery. A staunch-critiic-turned-avid-supporter of public education, Vollmer criticizes curriculum developed by businessmen, policy makers, and politicians who have neither face to face experience with students or knowledge of child development as do the 3.7 million teachers tasked with educating the nation's children.
As Ethan Young points out above, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is behind the move toward a nationalized curriculum. In the sense that successful businessmen should have input into what kind of employees they will need, this makes sense.
- ADOPTION STATISTICS
- As of this writing, 45 of 50 states have adopted Common Core State Standards. The interactive map below shows state-level details of adoption.
- Though a 90% participation statistic is impressive, watchers and critics of the movement are quick to post links to articles about state legislatures that are modifying, rethinking, or outright considering defunding their earlier intentions to adopt Common Core.
- THERE ARE CRITICS:
U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, did himself no favors when he characterized Common Core critics as "White suburban moms." Results from Common Core tests are coming in and student scores are lower than the previous and different tests. While Duncan was addressing the concern that moms will have when they see lower test scores (as has happened in New York state), his words did nothing to allay the fears of critics.
- MORE CRITICISMS:
- Critics and criticisms are plenty: to some, a nationalized Common Core is a federal power grab that violates the Tenth Amendment.