At a Tea Party gathering last month, Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett expressed his concern with the growing federal overreach of Common Core education standards. “This administration has an insatiable appetite for federal overreach,” he said. “The federal government’s involvement in these standards is wrong.”
The Indianapolis Star adds:
Bennett pointed out that the Common Core’s standards originated with the National Governors Association, and were intended for voluntary adoption by states. Then, according to Bennett, Obama nationalized the standards and has tried to use federal clout to force the Common Core on the states.
That the standards were ever simply a state-led effort is questionable. Regardless, the push for national education standards has quickly become a major focus of the Obama Administration’s agenda.
From the beginning, the Administration has attempted to lure states to the standards with federal dollars. It began with Race to the Top money as well as a proposal to make Title I dollars contingent on a state’s adoption of the standards. Most recently, the Administration has required states to sign on to the standards in order to receive No Child Left Behind waivers.
The Administration’s outright disapproval of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s merely expressing a desire to steer away from the so-called “state-led” standards is further evidence that this push for Common Core is neither voluntary nor state-controlled.
Growing concern over this blatant federal overreach has led other states to push back against Common Core. And they have every reason for concern.
Not only will greater federal intervention of education significantly hinder state, local, and parental authority over what children are taught in the classroom, but the implementation of the standards is estimated to put cash-strapped state budgets on the hook for some $16 billion in new spending. On top of this, there is significant worry over the quality of the standards, with states such as Massachusetts having had to water down their standards by adopting Common Core.
More federal control of education is not the solution to improving educational quality. States nationwide—Indiana itself being a prime example—are leading the way in innovative reforms by empowering local leaders and parents with greater authority over their children’s education. These types of policies, not national standards, will best assure that the unique needs of each student are met. States should stand strong against federal overreach into education to ensure that their reform efforts are not eroded.