Left, right unite against Common Core
Andrea Neal – When right and left wing activists find themselves on the same side of a controversy, it’s worth probing why. Such is the case with the Common Core academic standards being implemented in Indiana and 45 other states. Conservatives and progressives alike see problems with them.
The right is concerned about imposition of a “federal curriculum” and the loss of local control. The left fears “one size fits all” instruction that will turn teachers into widget makers whose primary purpose is to prepare students for testing, not learning.
Both question who’s profiting financially from this new set of national academic standards for English and math that will dictate the content of curriculum, textbooks, teacher training and testing materials.
Senate Bill 193, which would delay implementation of the standards pending further review, passed the Senate 38-11 on Feb. 21. Since then backers have poured tens of thousands of dollars into television ads to persuade the public and lawmakers to keep the standards in place.
Lawmakers have a duty to make sure the standards are right for Indiana, especially considering the breadth of expert opposition:
• “The assumption behind national standardization is that all students, regardless of state residence, should be able to do the same things at the same time. That ignores basic reality: states have different populations and challenges…. Having different state standards allows better tailoring to people’s actual needs than nationalization.” — Neal McCluskey of the libertarian Cato Institute.
• “One mandated universal curricular program for all children just does not make conceptual sense, is intuitively contradictory and has no empirical backing …We should be increasing curricular diversity, not seeking to constrict it.” — Christopher H. Tienken, editor of the AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice (American Association of School Administrators).
• “The Common Core standards effort is fundamentally flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation …We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time.” — Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at New York University and former Bush administration official.