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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Common Core, “Worst Large-Scale Education Failure in 40 Years,” Endangers Education Choice

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. November 23, 2018

In the more sane days gone by, children took a year-end achievement test for which there was no class preparation. Instead, the school year was spent mastering academic content, not constantly preparing for standardized tests. The achievement test score neither affected academic grades nor was used to determine whether the student passed for the year.

That has changed with the federal government seizing control of education that was left to state and local governments by the Constitution. Curriculum standards-based reform was underway in the 1980s and the implementation of state standards was mandated by Congress in 1994.

Historically standards meant high standards for teacher expectations for students, grading and behavior. Standards did not mean “very detailed government regulation of curriculum content, curriculum sequencing, and teaching methods,” explained Ted Rebarber of Accountability Works at a recent Heritage Foundation event.

However, standards evolved into just that. “Standards became the blueprint around which schools organize their teaching, their day-to-day academic operations. They’re effectively curriculum central planning by government,” said Rebarber.

Rebarber, co-author of Pioneer Institute’s study, “Common Core, School Choice and Rethinking Standards-Based Reform,” demonstrated how U.S. student math scores on the National Association of Educational Progress (NAEP) had been creeping up since the 1970s once the U.S. had reliable test results.

However, after Common Core was released in 2010 and fully implemented in 2014, NAEP scores plateaued and then began a steady downward slide. The worst drop was that of students who were doing poorly already.

On the international test, Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the U.S. declined from fifth place in 2011 to 13th in 2016 out of 58 international education systems.

Rebarber called Common Core the “worst large-scale educational failure in 40 years.”

Through deception and financial incentives, the federal government forced Common Core Standards on 45 states as the panacea for raising academic achievement levels and narrowing the achievement gap between students from the middle class and lower socioeconomic levels.

In reality, the standards were designed to dumb down academic learning and indoctrinate students in government approved thinking and views. Standardized assessments tied to Common Core forced teachers to teach to the left wing standards.

The Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress in late 2015 to replace the highly unpopular No Child Left Behind was supposed to repeal Common Core. Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander publicly stated that ESSA accomplished that. This was a bold-faced lie to the American people! ESSA actually codified the Common Core Standards and imposed them on the entire nation.

Further, by unconstitutionally requiring every state to submit its plan for standards to the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) for approval, ESSA dictates alignment of state standards to “college and career” standards” – another name for Common Core.

USDE Secretary Betsy DeVos has strong armed states into compliance with the ESSA Common Core standards if they want approval of their standards so they can maintain federal funding.

Common Core has placed school choice in jeopardy by threatening the independence of private schools. This often forces private school choice programs that receive taxpayer-funded vouchers, to adopt the curriculum on which the state standardized test is based. Most often, that curriculum is aligned with Common Core.

Because lawmaker don’t have the courage to not implement the unconstitutional ESSA in their states over fear of losing federal funding – actually a small percentage of a state’s education dollars – politicians are willing to allow Common Core to wreak devastating harm on school choice. 

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