The Guardian observes that the Common Core standards have dramatically turned into “political poison.”
Nicky Woolf writes that the controversial nationalized standards which “at first seemed so harmless” have become a “hot potato” for politicians.
“Harmless,” however, means that the nationalized standards were adopted by 45 states, sight unseen, and without any independent research to prove their validity. The promise of federal grants through President Obama’s Race to the Top stimulus program and relief from federal No Child Left Behind restrictions seemed to make the deal a no-brainer for states.
Today, however, at least 34 states now have had some form of legislation raised against the Common Core standards themselves, the aligned testing, or the associated student data collection.
Oklahoma has ditched the Common Core standards completely. Indiana has formally repealed them, though the state’s replacement standards look remarkably similar to the Common Core. It remains to be seen whether other states, like South Carolina, that have repealed the controversial standards will replace them with something different.
In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who once supported the standards, and a group of state lawmakers have filed separate lawsuits claiming the standards were adopted improperly outside the parameters of Louisiana law.
What is clear is that governors and other politicians are running from the “poisonous” Common Core standards as fast as they can. Those who have embraced them, like U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who is running for governor of his state, are suspected of either not knowing the issues surrounding Common Core, or having their political campaigns infused with cash from big business groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that have championed the initiative.
Common Core supporters, however, claim the fuss about the standards is simply due to “misconceptions” about them.
“A lot of the opposition is based on misconceptions about what standards are,” Robert Rothman, author of Something in Common: the Common Core Standards and the Next Chapter in American Education told The Guardian. Rothman provided what is now the standard pro-Common Core talking point that the Common Core is not a curriculum, and that it does not dictate how schools should teach; its goal is to set the baseline for expectations for all students.
That all sounds fine, except of course if school districts want their students to perform well on the Common Core-aligned assessments, which are based on the standards. Schools who opt not to buy the new Common Core-aligned textbooks might have their students at a disadvantage as well.
Additionally, despite the claims of the Common Core’s “rigor,” ironically, one of the developers of the standards, Jason Zimba, himself has admitted they will not prepare students for STEM fields or selective four-year colleges.
The fervor of grassroots groups opposed to the Common Core has led to parents refusing to allow their children to participate in the Common Core-aligned testing, and to removing their children from schools to homeschool them instead.
As The Guardian notes, the National Home Education Research Institute shows that the number of children being homeschooled has gone up by between 2% and 8% every year since 2010 – the year the Common Core standards were adopted in the states – to around 2.2 million today.