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What’s New with the Common Core?

By PHS Staff
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #96, 2010.

Learn about the progress as of November, 2010, in secretly designing the national educational standard

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In issue #88, we ran a lengthy article by Cathy Duffy giving the history of the current push for “common core” standards.

In a nutshell: Americans have always been opposed to the idea of a national curriculum.

Of course, what citizens want for their children cuts no ice with the educational elite.

So way back in 2000, the National Educational Goals Panel, an outgrowth of the Clinton administration’s 1994 “Goals 2000” initiative, declared “there can logically be only one set of national education standards per subject area.”

This set the ideological stage for the idea of mandating standards.

Then came this clever move in 2009. States would band together to create “common core standards,” which would of course be nothing like a national curriculum!

At this point, every state except Alaska and Texas is part of the “Common Core State Standards Initiative.”

And 40 states (plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) already have adopted the common core.

As we pointed out in last issue’s Newsshorts, part of the endgame here is to bypass the individual states’ textbook committees—especially Texas. As the largest state buyer of textbooks, Texas has always wielded a lot of clout on what publishers put in their textbooks. And Texas law allows knowledgeable citizens to appear before the textbook committee and do annoying things like point out reams of factual errors and politically correct bias in textbooks submitted for statewide adoption. See “Don’t Mess with Texas, Part 2” on page 6.

The final endgame is to ensnare the United States public-school system in a web of international standards. As Cathy Duffy reported in issue #88,

A recent report published jointly by the National Governors Association, The Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, Inc. (a group of business leaders) sets out “Five Steps Toward Building Globally Competitive Education Systems.”

These included “internationally benchmarked standards,” leveraging state’s “collective influence” to ensure curricula (included textbooks) are “aligned to internationally benchmarked standards,” copying the “human capital” practices of other countries, a system of school accountability based on “international best practices,” and measuring student performance “in an international context.”

Already leaders in world-class education zones such as Qatar (?!) are running conferences on how to adopt these international standards. We reported on one such conference, the World Innovation Summit for Education in issue #91.

Well, back down to earth here. The Republicans just won a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. They also took over a number of governorships and state superintendencies of education, running on platforms of more local control over education and what the Education Week “Curriculum Matters” blog calls “a heaping dose of hairy-eyeball for what they consider federal intrusion into school policy.”

But can the Republicans roll back the standards? And will they?

Especially since adopting them was part of what states offered up to the feds in order to vie for “Race to the Top” funds?

However, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act hasn’t been reauthorized yet. That should give the new crop of representatives some leverage.

Public schools need better teachers and more time on the 3Rs, not textbooks from Qatar. And homeschoolers definitely don’t need international elites dictating our curriculum. We’ll keep you informed on this issue as it develops.

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