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Common   Core
What is the Common Core?
by Jim Hopkins, school board member
image missing In 2009 when the national economy fell apart, states were frantic to find adequate funding for public schools. The federal government seized on this opportunity and tried to coerce the states into adopting the Common Core Standards for K-12 education.  Virginia declined the invitation which included some federal funds. But over 40 states accepted the federal dollars and Common Core.  But now some of these states are having second thoughts about their decision.

Common Core’s official website: http://www.corestandards.org is a wealth of information.  The Common Core Standards are owned by two national organizations. They are The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and The Council of Chief State School Officers. (Virginia’s chief school officer is the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.)  I have reviewed some of Common Core’s standards, its suggested class lessons, and its proposed teacher lesson plans.  The Common Core recommends high standards and the course content for the most part is excellent.

However, the Common Core Standards expect reasoning and decision making that is far beyond most K-12 students.  Critical thinking requires a strong core of basic knowledge, which is the purpose of K-12 education.   The Common Core methodology might succeed with 30% of K-12 students but what would happen with the other 70%?  But it is the nation-wide takeover of K-12 public education that is my major concern.

The Common Core Standards are NOT part of the federal government.  The organizations that own Common Core say on their website: "Federal funds have never and will never be used to support the development or governance of the Common Core or any future revisions of the standards."

It is clear that the owners of Common Core and other private organizations that own the tests will support themselves by charging the states and local school boards for their services.  They will be private single source providers, so there will be no competitive pricing.  The two national organizations that own the Common Core Standards refer to themselves as "state-led" but in reality they are not accountable to any publicly elected body at the federal, state or local level.

For states that adopt the Common Core, local school boards would be accountable to these national organizations and also to the federal government.  The Common Core Standards are intended to raise the bar for all students and the federal government wants "no child left behind."  These are admirable goals but the local school systems are going to be caught in the middle. As school systems raise the bar, more students will be left behind. Finding the correct rubric for K-12 public education is a decision best left to state legislators, local officials, and parents.  This is why I will continue to oppose any national takeover of K-12 education.