By Akash Chougule
President Obama’s controversial $16 billion federal government-based education reform program took yet another crushing blow last week; as two more states chose opt out of the Common Core standards. South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley and Oklahoma’s Governor Mary Fallin – both Republicans – have signed bills pulling their states out of the increasingly unpopular federal standards for America’s schools.
South Carolina and Oklahoma join Indiana in the group of states to have officially opted out, but could set off a tidal wave as states all across the country consider following suit. Five states never adopted the standards in the first place. Opposition to Common Core is far from a partisan issue, as state governments are hearing vocal complaints from students and parents, teachers and teachers unions, and even left-leaning comedians in addition to conservative grassroots and politicians.
The bill signed by Governor Fallin in Oklahoma requires the state to immediately ditch Common Core, return to the old standards, and develop “new, more rigorous standards” by August 2016. In South Carolina, the bill signed by Governor Haley officials repeals the standards in the Palmetto State starting with the 2015-2016 school year.
As Governor Fallin explained in her statement, Common Core was intended to be a state-run program with standards that would improve the quality of students American schools produced, but “unfortunately, federal overreach has tainted Common Core.” Fallin and Haley join Governor Mike Pence in Indiana in acting on the failed record of the federal government’s overreach into education.
Public schooling is a responsibility officially left to the states, but for decades, Washington administrations of both parties have sought to impose top-down standards by allocating funding with bureaucratic strings attached. From the Title I funds in the Hawkins-Stafford Act of 1988, to the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994, to No Child Left Behind in 2001, to Race to the Top in 2009, and now to Common Core, the federal government has clearly demonstrated that one-size-fits-all standards do not work to improve educational outcomes in public schools.
As Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) wrote in a 2013 paper, “Common Core’s one-size-fits-all approach to education ignores problems that state and city governments are more qualified to address than federal bureaucrats thousands of miles away.” The need to control American education from the top down fits with the Obama Administration’s track record of believing that bureaucrats in the marble halls of Washington, DC know better than the people living in and caring for their own communities across the country – and we have seen this federal-centric policy prescription fail time and time again.
The American Spectator even went as far as to call Common Core “the Obamacare of education” – obviously a nightmarish thought given how the federal government has repeatedly displayed its ineptitude through the President’s health care law.
AFPF continued, “In plain English, student achievement gaps are wider within states than between them. Thus, Common Core completely ignores a state’s internal inequalities in favor of uniform poor achievement across the nation,” stripping states of their ability to address internal issues. Thankfully, increasing numbers of people across the country are realizing their states and localities are better equipped than Washington bureaucrats to handle public education.
South Carolina and Oklahoma ditching Common Core represent another big win not only for states’ rights, but also for the education of millions of children. With bills across the country attempting similar action, we can only hope other states see the light and take back their freedoms from Washington, as well.