Big Business is now in favor of Big Education.
Businesses, understandably, don’t like the government telling them how to run their companies. They don’t want the government to impose one size fits all regulations, regardless of the differences between businesses in environment, size, and customers.
So it’s curious why the Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable and other business lobbying groups think that one size fits all regulation is the right answer for America’s schools and classrooms.
According to Politico, business advocacy groups will launch an advertising blitz this weekend in support of Common Core, the latest “we know better than you do” strategy by Washington to determine what is taught in schools, how it’s taught, and how we know if the students being taught learned anything.
The most important fact to know about efforts like Common Core is they don’t work. For years, via the typical Washington solution of more dollars and more government programs and more rules, bureaucrats in Washington have made attempts to improve the country’s education system. That approach has not worked — which is why it’s so frustrating that Washington is back with the same old answer of just spending and regulating more.
No one expects Washington to change. But the decision by the Chamber and others in the business community to invest in a proven path to failure is puzzling. Business certainly has a vested interest in America’s children — who are the next generation workforce — being well-educated and prepared for the jobs of the future. If businesses are to be successful they need workers who can read, write and problem solve. But our public schools and increasing federal intervention have failed to prepare many of our county’s young people to do those very things.
According to the 2013 findings of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), 29 countries statistically outperformed the United States in math (up from 23 in 2009), 19 countries statistically outperformed the U.S. in reading (up from just nine in 2009), and students in 22 countries outperformed U.S. students in science (up from 19 in 2009).
Interestingly, in the PISA’s addendum, it states that the highest-performing school systems are those that “grant more autonomy over curricula and assessments to individual schools” and that “systems where schools have more autonomy over curricula and assessments tend to perform better overall.”
Hmm. “Autonomy.” “Individual.” Sounds like the kind of language and thinking that used to come from the Chamber and others in the business community, so why aren’t they supporting efforts to promote policies like school choice instead of the Common Core top-down model?
National standards, the heart of Common Core, have a dubious track record at best in improving educational outcomes. As Heritage Foundation experts have noted: “While the countries that outperform the United States on international tests have national standards, so do most of those countries that score lower than the U.S. In further defiance of the hypothetical rule, Canada handily outscores the United States on international exams but has no national standards.”
On the other hand, choice works. But New York City mayor Bill De Blasio’s recent decision to halt the expansion of charter schools in his city where students are greatly outperforming those in the public schools shows you that facts don’t always matter to those in favor of central planning and a non-competitive market.
School choice works for the same reason the free market works: competition. Just as consumers having a choice about what they buy and where they buy it encourages business owners to produce better products, parents having a choice about which school is best for their child will encourage schools to produce a better product.
No one should understand this fundamental concept better than the business community and those who lobby on its behalf. Unlike Common Core, it is both common sense and a best practice for business.