Top education scholar says Common Core a diversion from genuine K-12 education reform

Nov 2, 2013 by

STANFORD, Calif. – A leading education scholar is warning Americans the new Common Core learning standards not only won’t lead to better-educated students, they could actually divert attention from genuine K-12 reforms that would.

Erick Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, argues in an U.S. News and World Report op-ed that the goal of establishing a uniform set of learning objectives among the states is laudable, but it’s hardly a guarantee America’s K-12 students will actually learn more.

“As history clearly indicates, simply calling for students to know more is not the same as ensuring they will learn more,” Hanushek writes.

He cites his home state of California as proof: The Golden State is noted for its high learning standards, but its students traditionally rank near the bottom in actual achievement.

“What really matters is what is actually taught in the classroom,” Hanushek writes. “Just setting a different goal – even if backed by intensive professional development, new textbooks, etc. – has not historically had much influence as we look across state outcomes.”

While Hanushek is skeptical that Common Core will live up to its promise of re-establishing the U.S. education system as a world leader, he’s downright alarmed that Core advocates are “sucking all of the air out of the room, distracting attention from any serious efforts to reform our schools.”

“One might interpret the emphasis on developing the Common Core curriculum as an effort to divert debate away from more intractable fights over bigger reform ideas like improved teacher evaluations, expanded school choice or enhanced accountability systems,” Hanushek writes.

His concerns seem well-founded. Common Core has caused a major rift among Republicans – the political party that’s largely led the education reform movement. Many Republican leaders, such as Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, support Common Core, while conservative grassroots activists have rejected the standards as a stealthy attempt by the federal government to take over the nation’s education system.

It’s very possible the Republicans’ larger pro-reform message has gotten lost during this extended period of in-fighting. That would play into the hands of the Education Establishment that’s always eager to keep the policy debate from focusing on things like private school vouchers, online learning options and achievement-based teacher evaluations.

Hanushek concludes: “While I support better learning standards, we cannot be distracted from more fundamental reform of our schools. The future economic well-being of the United States is entirely dependent on improving the academic achievement and skills of today’s students, but Common Core will do little to ensure this.”

Top education scholar says Common Core a diversion from genuine K-12 education reform – powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..// ]]>

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