American education needs competition, not Common Core

Sep 3, 2014 by

Vicki E. Alger –

Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman championed individual liberty and free markets instead of bigger government. This included his belief that all parents – regardless of their incomes or addresses – should be free to choose their children’s schools.

Yet too often expanding government instead of freedom is the default solution to ailing schools. The Common Core State Standards are a case in point.

Supporters claim that adopting Common Core, as California has done, will provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students should know to be prepared for college and careers. On the contrary, many experts serving on Common Core review committees warn that academic rigor was compromised for the sake of political buy-in from the various political interest groups involved – including teachers unions.

The curriculum is being used to advance a partisan political agenda, showcasing one-sided labor union, Obamacare and global-warming materials, along with more graphic, adult-themed books under the auspices of promoting diversity and toleration. But the politicization doesn’t stop there.

Through federally funded Common Core testing consortia, non-academic, personal information is being collected about students and their parents, including family income, parents’ political affiliations, their religion and students’ disciplinary records – all without parental consent. That information, including Social Security numbers of students in at least one state, is being shared with third-party data collection firms, prompting a growing number of parents to opt their children out of Common Core.

They’re not alone. Originally, 45 states signed on to Common Core, but so far four states have formally pulled out. Indiana was the first to reverse course and implement state standards instead. This decision earned a threatening letter from the U.S. Department of Education about withholding funds and revoking Indiana’s waiver from onerous federal No Child Left Behind mandates.

Since then, South Carolina, Missouri and Oklahoma have also ditched Common Core standards. Seven additional states have pulled out of their federally subsidized testing consortia, and four more are considering doing the same – although one testing consortium, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, still lists several withdrawn states as members.

Common Core is publicized as a state-led, voluntary initiative, but in reality it’s an offer states can’t refuse if they want their share of billions of federal dollars for education programs.

So much for Common Core being “voluntary” or “state-led.” So much, too, for the notion that federal education aid, which historically has averaged around just 10 percent of all education funding, is “free.”

Overpromising and under-delivering seems to be the legacy of the federal government’s leadership in education. With virtually no exceptions, major programs of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, currently dubbed No Child Left Behind, have not worked after decades of tinkering. Case in point:

— By 1984, illiteracy will be eliminated. That didn’t work.

— By 2000, high school graduation rates would reach 90 percent. Nope. Wrong again.

— By 2000, American students were supposed to be global leaders in math and science. Well, not so much, based on recent results.

— By 2014 all students will be proficient in reading and math. Not even close.

via American education needs competition, not Common Core – SFGate.

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