Kentucky’s children, like those across America, are now back in school. Chances are, they, their parents or even school boards know little or nothing about another new federal program now being foisted on all schools across the land. It is called Common Core and it dictates from the Obama administration’s Department of Education new educational standards for all schools.
Under Common Core, students must pass the tests based on the new standards in order to get a high school diploma, GED or admittance to college. It therefore controls standards in all schools: public schools, charter schools, religious and Catholic schools and homeschooling. Common Core’s control mechanism is the testing based on the standards and curriculum.
Under Common Core, federal standards that will control curriculum will replace all curriculum decisions by state and local school boards, state legislatures and parents, as well as Congress itself since President Obama circumvented Congress by using stimulus funds to promote Common Core. Its advocates admit that the standards cannot be changed or errors corrected because they are already printed and copyrighted by the private owners such as the Gates Foundation.
The cost to each state to adopt Common Core is estimated to be $15 billion for teacher retraining and the purchase of computers for all students to take the test. Historically, federal handouts are offered to entice states to come aboard such new programs. This is how the U.S. Department of Education has morphed into a funding organization to states for implementing its latest scheme, such as President Obama’s “Race to the Top.”
Common Core’s academic level is below what many states use now. The only real mathematician on the validation committee refused to sign off on its math standards, saying the standards are two years behind international expectations by the eighth grade and fall further behind in grades eight to 12. Additionally, its new science standards were examined by nine scientists and mathematicians who concluded that they were inferior to present standards in many states.
Common Core is not state written as is claimed. It is a national project created without any input from teachers or state legislators. Despite the claim, it is not “internationally benchmarked” – that never happened. Where would adoption of this national program leave Kentucky’s own Kentucky Education Reform Act of the 1990s?
Where are the promised results from previous programs that came down from the federal government under a plethora of different names and dictates such as “outcome-based education,” “national school-to-work,” “Goals 2000” and “No Child Left Behind”?
Before such a massive national “top down” control of local school standards and curriculum is implemented, at the very least, public hearings should be held so local communities can be informed and involved. Is this just another power grab from federal bureaucrats to control local schools?
National programs from on high have a very checkered history and we should look, even investigate, before we leap. Before full-scale federal overhaul and control of all educational standards, there are some things communities should know. For instance, a professor and member of Common Core’s validation committee refused to approve final published standards because “Common Core has carefully disguised its road to equally low outcomes for all demographic groups.” In other words, lower standards.
Local communities should know that repeal legislation has been filed in Oklahoma, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Alabama, South Dakota and Georgia. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has signed legislation to “pause” implementation of Common Core and hold public hearings.
Local school control has historically been a hallmark of how America approaches our children’s education. Parents matter. School boards matter. Local school control matters. How we conduct education matters, not only to individual students, schools and communities but our society in general. It matters greatly to businesses that hire those who have matriculated in our local schools.
Ultimate responsibility and authority for local education belongs to the community.
Pat Freibert is a former Kentucky state representative from Lexington. She can be reached at [email protected]