Proponents of the Common Core national standards push, including the U.S. Department of Education, have long argued that Common Core is a state-led initiative.
Why, then, would Secretary of Education Arne Duncan—and special guest President Obama—meet with more than 40 CEOs to promote Common Core?
President Obama and the nation’s top federal education official met with CEOs this past Wednesday at a gathering of the Business Roundtable in order to, as Education Week’s Sean Cavanagh put it, give Common Core “a boost inside the Beltway.” (Dane Linn, current vice president of education and workforce policy at the Business Roundtable, helped develop Common Core.)
President Obama promoted Common Core during his remarks to the CEOs, stating:
I want to thank the [Business Roundtable] because you’ve worked with us on issues like creating a common cause—a common core that ensures that every young person in America has the opportunity to get prepared for the kinds of jobs that are going to exist in the 21st century. (Emphasis added.)
The “you’ve worked with us before” line once again underscores the fact that the Administration has been very much involved in the Common Core effort. Federal entanglement aside, should business leaders heed President Obama’s calls to support Common Core national standards and tests?
CEOs should not be seduced into believing that Common Core will improve K–12 education and equip the American workforce with the skills future employees need in order to be successful. On the most foundational level, business thrives on a free market economy— on competition, not monopoly. But the Common Core initiative monopolizes the educational marketplace. It is a top-down approach to education that separates those closest to the students—parents, teachers, and local leadership—from the educational decision-making process.
Successful entrepreneurs would balk at such an approach for their own companies. Top-performing industries push decision making downward and provide employees with incentives to improve. Successful entrepreneurs also understand that businesses need to be able to engage in continuous quality improvement in order to remain competitive. Such an external mechanism for continuous improvement is absent in the Common Core national standards push.
Common Core is the antithesis of the type of innovation that defines entrepreneurship: It is bureaucratic, top-heavy, and inflexible.
Despite claims that Common Core was led by “teachers, parents, school administrators,” the Administration’s presence at Wednesday’s Business Roundtable meeting suggests otherwise. Indeed, according to a poll taken by PDK and Gallup earlier this month, 62 percent of Americans do not even know what the Common Core is.
Supporters of the Common Core would do better to learn from the CEOs about how to create excellence in a given field. Most recognize that choice and innovation—not centralization—is the key to improvement.
It’s this very lack of choice and innovation that has weighed down American K-12 education for decades. The last thing it needs is more centralization through national standards and tests.