10,000 Pages Needed to Answer Common Core Questions

Elizabeth Henry /

North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest continues to stand up for educational freedom in his state by questioning the stakes connected to the implementation of the Common Core national education standards.

In June, Forest released a video explaining his opposition to North Carolina’s rush to adopt the Common Core and lending his support to the State Board of Education’s decision to review the standards.

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Aiding the review process, he has now sent a letter to the superintendent of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) listing 67 unanswered questions about the Common Core in North Carolina. He asked for the answers to be delivered before the State Board of Education meeting later this month.

In response to the letter, the DPI requested that Forest provide 10,000 pieces of blank paper. Happy to oblige, Forest sent them the requested reams, stressing that he expects all questions to be answered by his deadline. He plans to lead a discussion of the department’s answers at the next Board of Education meeting.

Forest’s letter outlined seven chief concerns about North Carolina’s rush to implement Common Core as it pertains to: (1) development of standards, (2) cost, (3) required technology, (4) impact of standards on student performance, (5) the role of the federal government, (6) data collection, and (7) Race to the Top federal grant funding.

Here are a few of the questions included in Forest’s letter:

(1)   “Who owns the standards? [...] Do we, [the Board of Education and the Department of Instruction], have the right to revise the standards to accommodate our Public Schools’ diverse needs? […] Has the Common Core been validated empirically?”

(2)   “What is the total cost of implementing Common Core state standards (CCSS) and tests for North Carolina? […] What is the projected cost of implanting and carrying out Common Core state standards for the next 5, 10, and 15 years?”

(3)   “How can we allow students the flexibility to learn at individualized rates of study, if we are adopting standards and assessments that require them to learn at the same rate as the collective whole, as dictated by the benchmarks that will be assessed? […] David Coleman, President of the College Board, has stated that the SAT will be redesigned to reflect the CCSS. What will this impact mean for our non-public school families?”

(4)   “When North Carolina applied for federal Race to the Top grant money, we agreed to adopt the standards before they were officially published. Why did we agree to standards without knowing and vetting them first?”

Lt. Governor Forest is setting a good example of what state and local leadership should be asking of Common Core before diving into implementation. The stakes are high, and implementation is already proving costly in terms of dollars and will prove even more costly in terms of lost educational liberty. Education decisions should be in the hands of those closest to the students: parents and local leaders. Forest’s actions are consistent with that principle and should be considered by other states that have signed on to national standards.

Elizabeth Gray Henry is a recent member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.