Federally mandated school curriculum: Common Core in Pennsylvania

On March 14, 2013 the PA State Board of Education (with Governor Corbett’s approval) voted to put into place Common Core Standards (CCS) in English and math. It sets into motion nationally mandated common course standards for all K – 12 students so that education will be standardized across the country. This effectively eliminated the ability of parents and local school boards to influence content standards to suit local needs.

Why is Common Core wrong for Pennsylvania?
•    National control of school standards
•    $645 million required to implement in PA
•    CCS math standards will put PA’s students two years behind their peers in high-performing countries
•    Parents and school boards will have no recourse to influence content or standards
•    Undermines the US Constitution’s 10th Amendment authority of states over education
•    Massive federal student tracking initiative instituted

Common Core is the culmination of many years of the expansion of national controls over what should be local educational issues. In the 1990’s proponents of national standards put forth a proposal that was so revisionist and politically correct that the US Senate voted 99 -1 for a bill (SR 66) that prevented its implementation. The proponents learned that in order for them to get new standards imposed they would need to impose the standards quickly and quietly and to start with less controversial subjects.

The current standards are limited to English and Math, but will expand to include all subjects in coming years.

The origins of Common Core can be traced to the 2009 Stimulus bill which gave $4.35 billion to the federal Department of Education which then created the “Race to the Top” competition between states. In order to qualify for funding, the states needed to adopt Common Core sight unseen. An added incentive to adoption of CCS was that participating states would be exempted from many of the more onerous provisions of George Bush’s “No child left behind” program.

The recommendation by the PA Board of Education to adopt the standards is an end run around the legislature. This was completed with no public hearings and has been unknown to most of our legislators. This end run was enabled by a determination by the Board of Education that no additional funds would be required for implementation. However, the Regulatory Analysis Form Regulation 2976 saying:  “the State Board documents did not adequately address the fiscal impact.” A detailed analysis completed by the Pioneer Institute projects that full implementation will cost $645 million.

These Common Core standards have been very quietly accepted by 45 states, but exposure of the consequences of this intrusion into local and state control of education has caused a groundswell of opposition to adoption of the bill. The opposition has created an unusual alliance of school boards, school choice proponents, teachers’ unions and grass roots freedom groups. Opposition to Common Core is developing in many of the states already planning to implement CCS including Utah, California, Indiana, and Missouri to name a few.

EqualTestingComicThere is no evidence to justify a single standard for all students, given the diversity of interests, talents and needs among students. A one size-fits-all model assumes that we already know the best standard for all students; it assumes that one best way for all students exists.

Curiously, Governor Corbett is actually proud to implement Common Core. His Secretary of Education stated “Governor Corbett believes these changes will ensure that Pennsylvania’s students are prepared to succeed in higher education as well as the increasing rigorous requirements of our workforce”.

To find out who to contact and what to do please go to our Take Action page.