Common Core is Not the Solution
In 2010, the Indiana Board of Education unanimously voted that every school in our state must comply with new national standards now being pushed by the Obama administration known as Common Core. While the board’s decision was perhaps well intended, aiming to benchmark Indiana’s performance nationally and internationally, the decision was unfortunately made without a full vetting from our state’s residents, parents or teachers.
What exactly is Common Core? On its website, the initiative describes itself as “a state-led effort….. to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.” That certainly sounds nice, but it fails to tell the whole story. Common Core is a federal concoction cooked in Washington, D.C., and spoon-fed to the states, with the Obama administration requiring states to adopt it in order to be eligible for multimillion-dollar grants from Race to the Top and waivers from No Child Left Behind’s burdensome benchmarks.
Such federal intervention alone should be enough to deter any state like Indiana away from the standards. Washington’s repeated efforts to “raise” standards has produced little to no improvement in student achievement. In fact, the past two decades of education reform from Washington have been a tremendous failure (hence why states are applying for relief from No Child Left Behind in the first place). Nevertheless, the bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Education think they can do the same thing with Common Core and achieve a different result.
Indiana’s current standards are actually quite good. In fact, they’re excellent. The Fordham Foundation gave our state’s academic standards an “A” grade in a 50-state comparison, concluding that “they are considerably easier to read and follow than Common Core.” So, why should we switch to a potentially inferior product, especially since doing so would be expensive?
Common Core has some costly repercussions that Indiana’s schools will find difficult to afford. Every school in the state will have to refurnish its library upon adoption, buying thousands of textbooks that comply with the new national standards. Furthermore, they will have to buy hundreds of new computers because Common Core requires that standardized tests be administered online. In total, Fordham estimates the costs for our state to adopt could amount up to $290 million.
Worst of all, Common Core can’t possibly achieve its lofty goal of reducing the achievement gap between states. That’s because the widest disparity between student performance is not between states but within them. As the Brookings Institution explains in its 2012 Brown Center Report on American Education, “The variation within states is four to five times larger than the variation between them” for scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — widely accepted as the yardstick to measure student performance. Thus, Common Core will completely ignore Indiana’s internal inequalities.
We all want the best education possible for our children, but Common Core is not the solution. Our state’s successful school choice initiatives already have taught us that effective education reform comes from reducing red tape, not adding more of it. For the sake of Indiana’s future, now is the time to end the implementation of Common Core and determine what is truly best for Hoosier children.