States Must Reject National Education Standards While There Is Still Time

April 30, 2012

The Obama administration is intent on nationalizing the content taught in every public school across America.  Without congressional approval, the administration has used a combination of carrots and sticks to spur states to sign on to the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSI), says Lindsey M. Burke, an education policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

The Initiative is comprehensive in its breadth:

  • Common Core includes standards for English Language Arts and mathematics, and federally funded national assessments have been crafted to align with the standards.
  • Billions in federal funding was used to create incentives for states to adopt the standards.
  • Furthermore, coercive efforts were also made, including restricting access to Race to the Top grants and No Child Left Behind waivers to those states that adopted the standards.

The CCSI seeks to remove control from those closest to the individual student, such as parents and school leaders, and allotting it to federal bureaucrats.  This push to nationalize education is potentially harmful for a number of reasons.

  • It should be struck down on constitutional grounds alone: authority for education rests with states and localities, not the federal government.
  • Also, such standards undermine competition among differing curricula, thereby limiting the ability of the best course packages to rise to the top.
  • Furthermore, national standards that fail to account for state resources will inevitably push states into unsustainable financial situations; indeed, the implementation of the CCSI has been conservatively estimated to cost more than $16 billion for states.
  • Finally, national standards will compromise educational outcomes by standardizing and overvaluing mediocrity through catering to the mean of states instead of the best.

In addition to these practical problems, the wide adoption of the CCSI, which has already been approved by 46 states, will have the overall effect of increasing the federal government's role in yet another sphere of American life.

Source: Lindsey M. Burke, "States Must Reject National Education Standards While There Is Still Time," Heritage Foundation, April 16, 2012.

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