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This was written by a Parents Across America member, Laura Rogers, who lives in Spokane, Washington. She is the author of “Betrayed: How the Education Establishment Has Betrayed America and What You Can Do about it”
and “Betrayed” – a blog on education.
Reasons Not to Adopt the Common Core State Standards
By Laurie H. Rogers, education advocate, Spokane, WA
- The CCSS/tests/curriculum initiatives are untested and unproved. There are no tangible, measurable results anywhere in this country, no evidence to support allegations of their efficacy. Our children and teachers are the subjects of this national education experiment. It’s irresponsible to mandate that we all rush to adopt untested products.
- In math, the CCSS are a lesser product. Supporters of the CCSS admit that Washington’s current math standards are better, but they claim it doesn’t matter. Who spends hundreds of millions of dollars to adopt something that isn’t as good?
- The CCSS are a “minimum” AND a “maximum” standard. Our state is allowed to add up to 15% more content to the CCSS, but the costs of adding and assessing the extra are to be borne by taxpayers. It’s almost certain we would get the CCSS as is. Regardless, any addition is limited to 15%.
- The people don’t own the CCSS. Non-governmental organizations NGA and CCSSO own the CCSS. There is therefore no public accountability for the quality of the CCSS, no public vote against them, no public control over how they will be modified, and no recourse if the people don’t like the results.
- Nationalization of public education. With national standards, a national test, a national curriculum, a national database – and no local control – public education is thereby nationalized. Taxpayers will not be in control of what their children are learning, in the classrooms they pay for.
- Initially, these initiatives will produce instability and taxpayer costs. Then, there will be continued change and costs, or national paralysis. Centralization of public education initially will cause upheaval as all districts change over – at a cost of billions of taxpayer dollars. Supporters have called the CCSS a “living document,” indicating that change is expected. If so, this will be change and costs over which our state, districts, legislators, teachers and parents have little or no control. Another distinct possibility is national paralysis, where no one wants to change anything because then everyone would have to change.
- These initiatives will provide less public accountability. With the national standards/tests/curriculum, public education will be turned over to people who don’t know us, and who will never talk with us. It will result in a complete loss of local decision-making, and less real public accountability.
o The process used in Washington State to “provisionally” adopt the CCSS cut the public out of the process until it was all but too late. The public was told one thing, even as a completely different thing was happening. Gov. Gregoire and Superintendent Dorn signed a Memorandum of Agreement on the CCSS with no public notification. A few months later, they were pushing districts to sign on to RTTT (and the attendant CCSS) before the standards were even written.
o When public input finally was solicited, it was after the CCSS had been provisionally adopted. OSPI’s public “surveys” were heavily biased toward their permanent adoption.
o I’ve been trying for almost two years to get answers from the national business and political interests pushing the CCSS, and from the U.S. Department of Education. I haven’t received responses from most of these people, much less answers. The Dept. of Ed appears to be ignoring a Freedom of Information Act request about the CCSS.
o The CCSS were provisionally adopted, pending a legislative review in early 2011. But in this 2011 session, legislators have not had the opportunity to vote against their permanent adoption.
- Adopting the CCSS/tests/curriculum is a waste of taxpayer money. The money Washington State would get for the Race to the Top initiative will not pay for the costs of adopting the national standards/tests/curriculum. Ultimately, the national standards/tests/curriculum initiatives will cost more than the standards and assessments we have now.
o Washington State taxpayers spent more than $100 million on the development and implementation of the 2008 math standards that are clearer and more rigorous than those in the CCSS.
o State education agencies’ cost estimations for the CCSS often don’t take into account district costs, nor costs for materials, professional development, or the technology mandated by the new “common” tests.
o The money to build current standards and assessments is already spent. There are no savings to be had – not until the state MIGHT make changes at some unknown point down the road. It’s “creative accounting” to call that nebulous assumption “saving money.”
o It isn’t better to spend “federal” money than it is to spend “district” money. “Federal,” “state” and “district” money are all taxpayer money. Taxpayers can’t afford this untested, unproved upheaval.
o Even if Washington adopted the CCSS and got all of the money it could get for Race to the Top, half stays at the state level. The amount going to districts is a few dozen dollars per student per year, and there is no guarantee that ANY of it would go to classrooms.
No taxpayer understands spending hundreds of millions of dollars to adopt standards that are untested, expensive, and demonstrably less rigorous in math than what we have now. Yes, our public education system is weak. The answer is not to give away more control – it is to regain control at local levels, and hold those local people accountable. Something needs to be done, but not this. Not the CCSS. Not RTTT. Not the centralization and federalization of public education. Not the removal of the people’s voice and our vote. We need MORE voice, more choice, and more options for parents and teachers. Competition is good for education.
The CCSS/common assessments will add to costs, lower standards, eliminate choice, and ultimately not help children learn better. Adopting the CCSS will take our public schools in exactly the wrong direction.
Legislators must vote to delay the CCSS. Please help put a STOP to the adoption of the CCSS, to the complete centralization of our public education system, and to the removal of the people’s voice.
Thank you for your help
Laurie H. Rogers