I have received more email on this than any other single topic in a number of years. At the heart of the debate is whether Common Core represents a Federal Government takeover of local education:
A federal takeover of public education?
The federal government’s involvement with Common Core has many Americans worried that control of the curriculum in their neighborhood public school will eventually be decided by ideologically driven bureaucrats and politicians in Washington D.C.
Common Core’s defenders – a bipartisan group that includes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten – strongly deny that a set of national learning standards in two subject areas constitutes a federal takeover of public education.
They add that state and local education leaders will still have control over their curriculum – the lesson plans and classroom activities that are used to teach standards.
But critics aren’t buying those arguments.
Their concerns revolve around the forthcoming state tests that will align with the new learning standards.
The tests are being developed by two companies – the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC) and SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) – that were selected by the federal government and are being paid with stimulus funds.
That presents federal officials with an opportunity to influence the content of the test questions – which will directly impact what gets taught in the classroom, critics say.
Those concerns were given new life recently when Education Week reported that U.S. Department of Education officials are conducting a “technical review” of the tests that focuses on the “item design and validation” of questions that will be given to students.
In an email provided to EAGnews, a U.S. Department of Education official confirmed that the agency is reviewing a “sample” of the test questions to make sure the assessments “are on track to meeting the intended goals of the Race to the Top assessment grant program.”
Further, critics say Common Core sets the curriculum bar much lower than many low districts already employ. The liberal philosophy has argued for years the parents aren't smart enough to be trusted to raise their kids. Given that, fears that this leads to a government takeover of education are hardly paranoia.