Common Core is an unnecessary endeavor down the road to more centralization

Conservatives love to hate centralization; liberals love to love it. Most of the debates we hear about today are directly or indirectly about centralization. In the area of education, we’ve heard about it since the late 1970s, when the Department of Education was established.

Although it (unfortunately) hasn’t gotten the attention of the national media, the recently developed Common Core State Standards are another prime example of centralization gone haywire. Put simply, Common Core is a set of standards developed by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It sets a standard for education in mathematics and English. Common Core has been adopted by 45 out of 50 states, Missouri included. Common Core is an unnecessary endeavor down the road to more centralization.

One of the biggest myths about Common Core is it is a strictly state-developed program. It is true the federal government has had no part in its creation, but has in its implementation.
On July 24, 2009, President Obama announced there would be competitive grants for states that jump on the Common Core bandwagon. Most of the states that have adopted the plan have done so after said announcement. Put simply, the states were incentivized to centralize under the guise of a “state-led” initiative.

The argument is that an education in one area of the country may not be suitable to a job in another part of the country. That may be true for some schools, but it isn’t for many. For example, MHS offers 25 AP courses, all of which will prepare a student more than they’d like to be for college courses.

The opportunities are there for those who want and are capable of them. Adopting new “common” standards for the sake of standardization is unnecessary and would quite simply be a waste of time. If there really is a problem, the solution is to make it easier and more worthwhile for schools to adopt new opportunities like AP courses. That way, a higher education will be there for those who want it.

And of course, I’m obligated to mention how unconstitutional it is for the federal government to push states to centralize by the use of federal grants (taxpayer money, your money). Common Core practically skipped the traditional Republican process of debate and public opinion. This alone should be enough to get Common Core on the chopping block.

Teachers now have to alter what they teach in order to hit everything that’s on the new standardized tests, something called “teaching to the test.” It’s already a problem in AP classes. Teachers skip necessary or interesting bits of information because it’s not on the test. There’s no way around it with Common Core. I don’t think it would be a wise use of time, either, for teachers to take time altering what they teach in order to allign themselves with the program.

I cannot support Common Core. Many conservatives have thrown themselves behind it because it was “developed” by states, but it is by nature an exercise in centralization and standardization. States (but mostly local education systems) must lose a degree of autonomy. All said and done, the Common Core Initiative is another unnecessary approach to education disguised as a strictly state-run program. I cannot support something so bureaucratic and unconstitutional.