Does your child’s homework look different lately?
Maybe something like this has happened to you or someone you know:
Heather Crossin, an Indianapolis mom of four…asked her school’s principal why 8-year-old Lucy’s math homework suddenly focused on abstract concepts, even drawing pictures to solve problems, instead of practicing formulas.
The Obama Administration has incentivized states to accept national education standards—called Common Core—with billions in federal grants and waivers from the onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind. In a new Foundry Special Report, Alicia Cohn digs into what happens when a state questions Common Core.
In short: It’s a mess.
Cohn visited Indiana, which has “paused” implementation of Common Core to reevaluate whether it is right for students. She found that some in state government were dissatisfied with the level of scrutiny the standards received to begin with.
“I really think out of 150 legislators in the building, there were probably no more than a handful that had ever heard of Common Core, yet we adopted them as standards in the state of Indiana,” recalled State Senator Scott Schneider, a Republican.
Pausing—while important for Indiana to evaluate its next move—means teachers and students are left in the lurch about what curriculum they’re supposed to be teaching and learning, and how testing will be done.
A pause isn’t enough, says Lindsey Burke, Heritage’s Will Skillman Fellow in education: “If states want to ensure they control their own education systems, nothing short of a total exit from Common Core national standards and tests will do.”
Why? Burke explains:
States that have agreed to adopt Common Core have relinquished authority over the content taught in local schools to national organizations and bureaucrats in Washington. They have handed over ownership of the standards and tests that are used—the backbone of curriculum—to national groups that, as far as we can tell, have no plan for maintaining and updating the standards in the future.
Though the Obama Administration touts Common Core as making students “college and career-ready,” a Stanford professor has described the standards as adequate to prepare students for “non-selective community colleges.” Meanwhile, a number of states seem to think just changing the name of the standards will quiet down the critics.
But Common Core’s effects run deep, Burke says, and it is the opposite of “what K-12 education in America so desperately needs right now: choice and competition.”
Have you experienced the Common Core standards? Tell us your story in the comments.
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