Common Core Would Deliver a Crippling Blow to School Choice

Common Core Would Deliver a Crippling Blow to School Choice
November 25, 2013

Robert G. Holland

Robert Holland, a journalist and author who has championed school choice throughout his career, is... (read full bio)

Parents and other taxpayers have multiple reasons for mounting a full-fledged grassroots rebellion against the nationalized education program being marketed as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Among those reasons are the undemocratic process of adoption, evidence of its recycling of fuzzy math and downgrading of classic children’s literature, lesson sheets from CCSS-preferred publishers that sneak in left-wing slants, the mining of personal data about students, and, yes, early signs that the CCSS tests created with $350 million in federal stimulus loot will frustrate millions of primary-age children with inappropriate questions.

Ultimately, disempowerment may be the main reason for parental angst. Unless it is stopped, Common Core will deliver a devastating blow to parental choice at all levels. The one, limited power possessed by most public-school parents is the ability to seek change at the local school board. Unfortunately, the corporate and foundation-funded sponsors of CCSS copyrighted the standards and set up no process for local amendment.

The greatest leverage for parents comes when they can use vouchers or tax-credit scholarships to transfer their children to private or parochial schools. But even in a state with as strong a voucher program as Indiana, the government requires schools accepting voucher students to administer the official test, which has opened the door wide to CCSS-style assessment. Thus will governmental creep dilute the liberating effect of school choice.

Nor will homeschooling parents be exempt if CCSS stands, because many states also require home educators to administer the official test. Even more insidious, Common Core lead writer David Coleman (formerly a testing consultant) now heads the College Board and has vowed to align the SAT with the nationalized standards. Thus any student—whether from public, private, parochial, or home school—will have to be Common Core-acclimated.

Ah, but U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan believes such concerns as loss of choice over their children’s upbringing do not motivate those parents rallying and marching in opposition to CCSS. Tapping his inner snarkiness while addressing like-minded educrats Nov. 15, Duncan stereotyped dissenters as “white suburban moms” who are miffed that CCSS online testing will show their children aren’t so “brilliant” after all.

This playing of a dual race/gender card was not the Obama education minister’s first slander of CCSS opponents, whom he has portrayed as delusional and paranoid.

All along, Duncan and fellow bigwigs aboard the CCSS bandwagon have insisted these math and English standards are state-led, purely voluntary, and 100 percent federal interference-free. If that were truly the case, why would Duncan be doing all this dirty cheerleading?

No doubt many of the activists bad-mouthed by Duncan indeed are moms, as was the case when grassroots opposition bought down a similar scheme called School to Work during the Clinton years. However, one wonders what demographic data prompted the federal Secretary to take such a sexist and racist slant.

 There are plenty of dads, as well as male principals and teachers in the stop-CCSS coalition. And students are speaking out, too ­­­– most remarkably high school senior Ethan Young, who delivered a withering critique of CCSS in the five minutes allowed him by the Knox County, Tennessee school board. So compelling was Young’s November 6 presentation that, just two weeks later, it already had 1.4 million “views” on YouTube.

As for Duncan’s insinuation that whites are uniquely offended by government power grabs in education, it has been well documented that black families have been a significant component in the 75 percent increase in American home schooling since 1999. Having experienced the false promises government-run education has made to minorities and having opted for opportunities made possible for their children by independent learning, it is a safe bet these families do not wish to be to forced back onto a statist plantation by CCSS.

Millions of Americans of diverse backgrounds and political beliefs do care deeply about parental rights, and they recognize the grave danger CCSS poses. That’s the real reason the Secretary devotes his office hours to thinking up new insults to hurl at those uppity parents as he works to cement his “voluntary” Common Core into place.

[Originally published at Knox News]

Robert G. Holland

Robert Holland, a journalist and author who has championed school choice throughout his career, is... (read full bio)