Tea Party followers are hypersensitive to perceived threats to our liberty from the federal government. One such threat that has reared its ugly head is the Department of Education’s Common Core Curriculum.
On its face, the Common Core Curriculum sounds productive. It is just that, a broad standard curriculum for Mathematics, English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. These two broad areas of education are the foundation of all education system in America.
The Mission Statement is quite innocuous:
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
Sounds innocent enough but the possibilities for abuse are endless. First and foremost, education in the United States has traditionally been the province of states and localities. Generally, local school boards with guidance from their states oversee education at all levels in elementary and secondary schools.
However with the advent of the Department of Education the federal government has increasingly interposed itself into this area. Using the carrot of federal funding, the government has imposed a series of federal mandates on local school.
Unfortunately, the lure of federal dollars is just to difficult to pass up and almost all school districts in the United States have been hooked.Social conservatives have never liked that kind of incentive game, especially when it’s connected to a Democratic president.
GOP Rep. Rob Bishop, whose Utah district is ground zero for the anti-Common Core movement, called the Common Core a “hook” from which the state could never extricate itself.
According to its critics, the most nefarious consequence of Common Core is a data collection program that’s part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus). The idea is to better track student demographic and achievement data to figure out what’s working and what’s not, and respond accordingly.
Heather Patenaude, a writer at the anti-core site Truth in Education synthesized the movement’s fears:
There will be a massive data tracking system on each child with over 400 points of information collected. This information can be shared among organizations and companies and parents don’t have to be informed about what data is being collecting. They will collect information such as: your child’s academic records, health care history, disciplinary record, family income range, family voting status, and religious affiliation, to name a few. Big brother will be watching your child from preschool till college (P20 Longitudinal Data System). You, the parent, are UNABLE to opt your child out of this tracking system.
Lawmakers in 18 states have considered legislation to block the implementation of the curriculum standards. Five—Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia—have successfully rejected or partially rejected Common Core. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell reiterated his opposition to Common Core in late March, just one week after Texas Gov. Rick Perry went on Beck’s program to denounce it.
On the most basic level, the fight over Common Core is same fight parents and policymakers have been waging over public education for the last century, centering on two basic questions: What is the appropriate level of federal involvement in local schooling? And if we did settle on an umbrella curriculum, what should it actually look like? Education reformer Diane Ravitch, for one, opposes Common Core on the grounds that, while there should be a set of national education tenets, she believes “such standards should be voluntary, not imposed by the federal government.”