There isn't anything in recent educational history that has caused more of a stir than the implementation of national Common Core standards in most states. It seems that everyone from politicians to parents has an opinion on these learning benchmarks and their corresponding testing systems. Even comedian Louis C.K. recently vocally opposed Common Core during an interview with David Letterman. Everyone is throwing his or her two cents into the Common Core discussion and it has all led to a firestorm of questions surrounding the future of K-12 education in the U.S. and whether one streamlined goal program can really be effective with all students.
As a disclaimer, I actually support a lot of the components of Common Core and believe that heightened, more focused teaching toward subjects like math and science are necessary for this generation of K-12 students to survive and thrive in the future world workplace. Despite my personal feelings on the heart of Common Core standards, however, the initiatives are misdirected in more ways than one and will be rendered ineffective in the end. This week I'd like to take a look at why Common Core standards will ultimately be thrown out, starting with the politics of the program first.
Common Core is linked to Obama.
Even though President Obama did not draft or implement Common Core standards, he is inextricably linked to them. This is due in part to the fact that his Race to the Top program connects federal funding with states that have Common Core standards in place and who excel in the testing of the material. The President has certainly put his weight behind the ideals of Common Core standards and has always been vocal about his belief that streamlined learning benchmarks and continued teacher accountability is necessary for the future of the nation's economy and knowledge base. He did not, however, come up with the idea for Common Core standards nor approve them upon completion. The bi-partisan National Governors Association did that.
Still, people who already dislike President Obama seem to think that passionately disliking Common Core is just another way to show their disapproval of his administration. While this specific group is certainly not large enough to topple the standards alone, it is influential, particularly when it comes to politicians that are looking for an easy way to please constituents. Which brings me to my next point...
Politicians are using Common Core as a platform.
Republican governor of Indiana Mike Pence was once a supporter of Common Core initiatives, and so was Republican Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. Yet both are now some of the most prominent politicians to speak out against Common Core standards - and in the case of Pence, he has since withdrawn Indiana from the program (and then replaced the standards with eerily similar "state developed" ones). It seems that Common Core is becoming a platform for politicians looking for their next news byte or front-page photo op. It's not limited to politicians in office, either.
In April, Republican Rob Astorino of New York, a gubernatorial hopeful, made a public announcement that his own children would not be taking state assessments based on Common Core benchmarks. The spotlight-stealing is not limited to Republicans, of course. Last month Virginian democrat Adam Ebbin who hopes to replace long-time Senator Jim Moran said he does not support Common Core standards (which Virginia has so far opted out of using). Politicians from both sides of the aisle are seeing the fiery side of their constituents and looking for a way to push that passion in their own directions.
In the other two parts of this series I will look at the role parents and logistics will play in bringing down Common Core for good, and how both will influence future educational policy.
Do you think that Common Core has rightfully, or unfairly, become a hot button political issue?
Dr. Matthew Lynch is the author of the newly released textbook, The Call to Teach: An Introduction to Teaching. To order it via Amazon, please click on the following link.