On Wednesday, Bill Gates wrote a USA Today column lauding Common Core standards as a way for “students to get the best education possible” and “become good citizens and members of a prosperous American economy.” Heritage education policy analyst Lindsey Burke details why she disagrees below.
Gates provides no evidence that Common Core will “improve education for millions of students.” Instead, he tries to bust “myths” surrounding the Common Core push. Gates argues that “80% of students say they expect to go to college while only 40% of adults have an associate’s degree or higher,” which he assumes a national standards and testing regime with rectify.
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Setting aside the push for Common Core for a moment, Gates’s concern about college attendance rates is also misguided. As AEI’s Andrew Kelly points out, “our system of postsecondary education does promote social mobility, but only for the small segment of low-income Americans who actually finish a credential.” Considering the significant levels of debt many students take on to attend college, and the fact that many fail to earn a degree, not attending college may be a better decision for some students than attending a few years of school, not earning a degree, and leaving saddled in debt.
And as University of Ohio economist Richard Vedder has noted, “roughly one of three college graduates is in jobs the Labor Department says require less than a bachelor’s degree…We have engaged in massive and costly credential inflation to certify competency for jobs.”
Gates also states that “Americans move more than 10 times over the course of a lifetime.” But students under the age of 18 actually move just 2.6 times on average, and usually are moving within the state in which they reside. As Cato’s Neal McCluskey points out, “since all states have their own standards, even among movers very few lose standards ‘consistency’.”
Gates also tries to make the case that Common Core was created with input from parents and teachers. But the “organizations made up of governors and school officials” – as Gates refers to them – are actually the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, both national associations that have worked closely with Washington to push the standards and tests. Parents and teachers have been far removed from the discussion and the process.
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.