Well, Monday is the State Board of Education’s moment of truth: the decision whether or not to adopt Common Core standards. What once looked like an outcome not in doubt has changed in recent days. A great Ed News Colorado story today by Todd Engdahl lays it out well.
Some of the decisions made by the State Board are pretty cut and dry, many of an administrative nature. From time to time they are faced with more momentous choices. Monday’s vote certainly is one of them. My understanding — based on the Ed News report as well as what my Education Policy Center friends are hearing — is that of the Board’s seven members, two are definitely opposed (Peggy Littleton and Marcia Neal) and one is leaning that way. Board chairman Bob Schaffer could turn out to be the deciding vote.
It’s kind of a Catch-22: Voting Yes on Common Core opens up a potential Pandora’s Box of greater federal control and involvement over Colorado parents and schools. Voting No means effectively ruling out Colorado’s chances to bring home up to $175 million in U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top reform dollars. (Note: Over the four years of the grant award, that probably will amount to less than one-half of one percent of Colorado’s total K-12 revenues.)
I’ve thought long and hard about the matter, and believe that the price for adopting Common Core is too high. Colorado can continue to move forward on education reform and make tough decisions without the major federal entanglement it would entail. I agree with the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke:
…the Obama Administration’s push for national standards and tests, threatens the long-established right of parents to direct their children’s education and confuses a proper understanding of federalism. States model federalism for children by setting standards, tests, and curriculum. But that important lesson in self-government will be another unintended casualty of this standards overhaul now that the federal government is overreaching to set the educational terms for local schools….
But it’s not just our deep-rooted principal of federalism that is at stake in President Obama’s education agenda; it’s also our ongoing pursuit of excellence that hangs in the balance.
Adding weight, Matt Ladner’s latest in-depth analysis effectively exposes the weak arguments of some leaders advocating for the adoption of Common Core — those who are trying to tell us just to relax and not worry about the whole thing.
Sorry, I can’t relax, especially with Obama’s education secretary Arne Duncan pushing the envelope more and more on the federal role in education. The more I learn about Common Core, the more concerned I am about what a rash decision to approve them could mean for Colorado’s current and future students, like me. State Board member Peggy Littleton brought the important issue to our attention a couple months ago, and I’m very glad she did.
Also of interest on this topic: Listen to the new 10-minute iVoices podcast as Kit Carson School District’s Gerald Keefe explains why he and other rural superintendents are pushing back against the effort to enact national standards.