• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • National Education Standards: Been There, Didn't Do That

    While 46 states have jumped on the national education standards bandwagon, it’s not too late to hit the brakes. We’ve been down this road before.

    During the 1990s, the push to nationalize standards and testing reached a fever pitch. There were the infamous national history standards, which were so poor (no mention of the Apollo 11 moon landing; not a single mention of the Constitution; the absence of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and the Wright brothers) that the U.S. Senate rejected the resolution 99–1.

    President Bill Clinton’s Goals 2000: Educate America proposal, coordinated with his 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), called for states to establish standards and tests aligned with national models. While technically voluntary, ESEA funding was conditioned on states shifting toward standards-based reform.

    In what sounds remarkably similar to the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top grants, in 1994, Education Week described the Clinton-era effort as one in which “states agree to set content and performance standards and draft reform plans in exchange for federal grants.” And as The Washington Post wrote in 1995, the effort had significant support:

    It was once hailed as the next great hope to improve the nation’s schools, a landmark measure embraced by nearly every governor, approved with bipartisan votes in Congress and praised by countless leaders in education and business.

    But despite the significant momentum behind the effort, the idea of establishing national standards and tests was ultimately rejected. States and local school districts understood that Washington was overstepping its bounds to an unprecedented extent and chose instead to retain their educational sovereignty.

    The eulogy of the Common Core national standards initiative could read just the same. If state and local leaders, school superintendents and teachers, parents, and taxpayers fight against this latest—and perhaps greatest—federal overreach into what is taught in schools across America, it just might.

    The movement to nationalize standards and testing—and ultimately curricula—is costly in terms of liberty, not to mention dollars. State leaders who believe in limited government and liberty should resist this imposition of centralized standards. States should consider these three strategies:

    1. Determine how the decision was made to cede the state’s standard-setting authority. For most states, the state board of education is the body that made the decision to adopt the Common Core State Standards. State boards of education were elected or appointed to govern state education policy, not to surrender educational authority to a centralization movement. Advocates of federalism should be concerned that their state officials have ceded authority over the standards and assessments that drive what is taught in local schools.
    2. Prohibit new spending for standards implementation. Making pedagogical and curricular changes, revamping professional development, and aligning textbooks and assessments to adhere to the Common Core will burden already-strained state budgets. The Pioneer Institute estimates that, cumulatively, states will be on the hook for about $16 billion in implementation costs. To assess the full fiscal impact, state leaders should request an independent cost analysis of national standards adoption to inform taxpayers about the short- and long-term costs of the overhaul. At the same time, governors and state policymakers should refuse to expend any state or local resources to align state standards, tests, and curricula with the Common Core national standards and tests.
    3. Determine how to reverse course. The rushed adoption of the Common Core in many cases preceded the election of 2010, which brought in new governors, legislators, and board members. Conservative leaders should be concerned about the authority handed to centralizers by their predecessors and investigate how to bring standards and curriculum control back into the hands of state leaders.

    We’ve been here before. States ultimately chose the path of liberty in determining education content in the 1990s and should do so again. Instead of abdicating responsibility for standards and assessments—and ceding more control over education to Washington and national organizations—state leaders should exit this national standards boondoggle. It’s not too late.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to National Education Standards: Been There, Didn't Do That

    1. Robin says:

      Yes indeed. The Common Core's actual implementation, as opposed to the rhetoric, is precisely what was called radical and revolutionary in the 90s. Same people involved, same function, more parts that still fit together with more involvement at the misguided state level chasing after the funding, and new names. One big difference though, this time they funded the alternative assessments, not really tests in the traditional sense, upfront. Through the 2009 Stimulus Act.

      I have profiled all summer the huge discrepancy between the sales campaign and what the governing documents show. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/comparing-the… is just one example of what I have compiled.

      No question that CCSSI will go down in history as one of the great Bait and Switch campaigns. Hopefully it will also call attention to how much of our education policy has been turned over to unaccountable accreditation agencies. Their goal is implementing John Dewey's Social Reconstruction philosophy.

      And right now our economy and society are sitting ducks in an assault on our noetic system most of us are unaware of. Even those who recognize a problem misperceive this is actually a political discussion over whether we are to be a free market/individual oriented society or a collectivist society with a state directed economy. There's no ambiguity in the documents I have tracked down on the actual intentions of the Creators of these schemes. Either in the 90s or now.

    2. Jim Cowardin says:

      There is no doubt that the current administration is h—bent on taking us toward more socialistic governmental systems. If the common core floats their boat in this regard, then good for them. Allow me to despise such a practice.

      But we might ask whether or not Common Core has educational value. On that issue, I would say probably not to definitely not. I have seen nothing new in CC Standards. In fact, it is more edubabble that will guide not one teacher to be more effective in what they do. The language of the CCS is intentionally vague to incomprehensible. Proponents say that they release the teacher to go in many directions, but to go in 360 different directions means go nowhere. If you look at the prep schools that turn out our best students, they teach XY and Z and they teach it well. On the other hand our regular high schools teach very little and do not teach it well. In a large part, this is because the preparation of students in "regular" high schools is abominable and in abject failure. So the high schools have little to work with in most cases. Will CCS have a positive effect on students? No! The standards for lower grades will not help teachers one iota, and students entering high school will still be ill prepared. So any money we spend on implementation is wasted, as is so much of the support currently supplied to our wounded system of education.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.