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Common Core Controversy in the United States

Friday, August 16, 2013 -- Shane Dennison

Shane Dennison, State and Federal Programs Consultant at Edmentum, kicks off his new series, “Common Core Controversy in the United States".

We have heard that many believe the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a great move for the United States to ensure our children are career and college ready.   Another goal of the CCSS is to help the U.S. become more competitive against other leading developed countries.

Amidst the positives that the promoters of the CCSS have presented (and there are several potential positives), there is much controversy surrounding the CCSS that is becoming more and more prevalent at the second-tier media outlets (i.e., Internet-based publications, radio shows, blogs, etc.). Though most citizens and politicians realize that the federal government was not directly involved in the creation of the CCSS, many believe it has had its thumb in it and will continue to as most states make full adoption

Multiple states have grassroots organizations popping up against the CCSS, and certain politicians are joining their cause. PA Rep. John Lawrence (R-Chester), author of House Bill 1554, said, “the federal government has no business collecting information on children to build large databases. My legislation prohibits the state from transferring individual and personal student data to the federal government. There is no reason for Uncle Sam to keep records on little Jimmy's second grade math score, or anything else for that matter.”

 Accordingly, PA Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland), author of House Bill 1552, said, the “top-down” approach of the federal government is potentially contrary to Constitutional freedoms. “One of my deepest concerns about the imposition of the Common Core is that private, religious, and homeschool educators might be forced into adopting government-dictated curricula and assessments that violate their academic freedom and rights of conscience. While state officials have promised that the Common Core won't apply to these alternative educational settings, my bill is designed to back up that promise with enforceable statutory language," said Bloom.   Ohio and Kentucky also have organizations speaking out against the CCSS.

Leading education historian Diane Ravitch has been struggling for the past several years with whether the CCSS will be beneficial or negative without giving an opinion one way or another. But a few months ago, she finally came to a limited conclusion of “not” supporting them. Ravitch states, “President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan often say that the Common Core standards were developed by the states and voluntarily adopted by them. This is not true. They were developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, both of which were generously funded by the Gates Foundation. There was minimal public engagement in the development of the Common Core. These entities’ creation was neither grassroots, nor did it emanate from the states. ​In fact, it was well understood by states that they would not be eligible for Race to the Top funding ($4.35 billion) unless they adopted the Common Core standards. In fact, federal law prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from prescribing any curriculum, but in this case the Department figured out a clever way to evade the letter of the law.”

At Edmentum, we hope that the CCSS are a resounding success for all students and states that will soon be utilizing them without forcing them to compromise their values. But it is clear there is a political agenda to the CCSS from both sides. And as educators, citizens, and parents, we need to be sure we do our own research into all sides of the CCSS inclusions and the ongoing debate so that we can be sure to stay informed and do what is in our children’s best interests according to our collective conscience.