By Lindsey Burke
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Not so fast. That was the message from South Carolina leaders on Wednesday, concerned about their state’s involvement with the national standards education agenda.
Despite being called conspiracy theorists by the U.S. Department of Education, the South Carolina Senate Education Committee voted to study further the impact that adopting national standards and tests would have on taxpayers, families, and teachers in the state. The measure had bipartisan support, and the standards will be examined along with a proposal introduced by State Senator Mike Fair (R–Greenville) to completely pull the Palmetto state out of the national standards overhaul.
South Carolina is right to be concerned about the impact that adopting national standards and tests will have on education in the state. “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,” said Fair.
South Carolina representatives aren’t alone in their desire to reexamine their involvement in the Common Core national standards, an effort to define what every public-school student in America will learn. Policymakers in Utah are now taking a second look at the decision to surrender control of their education standards to national organizations and Washington.
Utah State Senator Margaret Dayton (R) has introduced a proposal that says the state “may exit any agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or consortium that cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum standards to any other entity.” According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the proposal passed unanimously in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. It’s a signal that policymakers in the state are concerned about surrendering their standards-setting control.
The Common Core has been aggressively supported by this administration. Whether one thinks that makes the exercise “nationally-imposed” is mostly a matter of semantics…It’s ludicrous for [Education Secretary Arne] Duncan to pretend otherwise. Race to the Top, the administration’s “ESEA blueprint,” and the waivers all reward the adoption of Common Core, while RTT included $330 million to develop Common Core assessments—funds that, with little concern for the niceties of statutory prohibitions, are helping to develop curricular and instructional “materials”.
State policymakers are right to have concerns about the Common Core national standards. If adopted, states will be surrendering control of their education decision-making authority to national organizations and distant bureaucrats in Washington.
As the Pioneer Institute has recently reported, national standards adoption will cost states nearly $16 billion. Pioneer also notes that the U.S. Department of Education is running afoul of three laws prohibiting the federal government from being involved in curriculum. And notably, groups across a wide spectrum have voiced concerns that national standards won’t improve educational outcomes.
As Jay Mathews noted in The Washington Post last week, “Common Core standards are the educational fashion of the moment, but your child’s teacher can name many similar plans that went awry.” Except this time, if implemented, this “educational fashion of the moment” will have permanently ceded more state and local education control to Washington at great costs to state taxpayers—in dollars and educational freedom.