Friday, May 28, 2010


“These proposed national standards are vague and lack the academic rigor of the standards in Massachusetts and a number of other states,” said Pioneer Institute Executive Director Jim Stergios. “The new report shows that these weak standards will result in weak assessments. After so much progress and the investment of billions of tax dollars, it amounts to snatching mediocrity from the jaws of excellence.”

The Emperor’s New Clothes:
National Assessments Based on Weak “College and Career Readiness Standards”

Recommendations to a range of entities before states adopt Common Core’s standards. They include:

· State boards of education and state legislatures
· Local school boards and district superintendents
· Congress
· CCSSI/The Common Core consortium
“What is perhaps most outrageous is the way these standards and assessments are being rammed through without adequate public input or scrutiny,” said Lance Izumi, Koret Senior Fellow and Senior Director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. “We need transparency and careful review, not secrecy and state boards of education acting as rubber stamps.”

From Checker's Desk [Fordam Institute]
Rushing to Judgment?

Indeed, we'd probably be better off in the long run if the federal Race to the Top program were not crowding states to make this decision within sixty days. Worse, they're expected to commit to such a decision (to qualify for RTT funding) by June 1, even though the standards themselves don't appear until June 2! This has the makings of theater-of-the-absurd. It also raises anxiety levels about this worthy state-initiated, state-led venture turning into yet another federal mandate that will get caught in the wringer of Washington politics.


At day's end, it's still states that are responsible for public education in the U.S.—and states that must determine whether and how to change it. To be sure, the "common core" carries with it significant implications for the federal government, too, most obviously in the revision of NCLB/ESEA, as well as any later iterations of Race to the Top (and, of course, the grant competition now underway for new assessments).

Just Say No To The Race to the Top?
9. Race to the Top erodes state control of public education, a basic principle of our federal system of government throughout our history. Now, states will dance to whatever tune the U.S. Department of Education feels like playing. Will a different administration demand school prayer and vouchers in exchange for billions?

10. Race to the Top erodes local control of education by prompting legislatures to supersede local school boards on any issues selected by federal bureaucrats.

I hope I am wrong, but I believe that 10 years from now, we will look back with regret and even shame on this misuse of federal power. Books will be written analyzing where these ideas came from and why they were foisted on the nation's public schools at a time of fiscal distress. And we will be left to wonder why so much money and energy was spent promoting so many dubious ideas.

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