A great deal of ink (both actual and electronic) has been spent over the last couple years on the topic of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and I take this opportunity to add my opinions to the fire. I’ve had “opportunity” in my various positions to hear and read opinions on all sides of the issues and find some value in each of them.
First of all, I’ll address the question of what CCSS is for those who may not know. CCSS, at its most basic, is a set of National Standards currently moving toward full implementation in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Currently, these standards are available for Math and Communication Arts with guidelines for using them in other subjects. Word is that they are being written for Science and Social Studies.
The proponents of the CCSS like that they will create a unity among schools across the country.
Opponents don’t like the fact that the Federal Government seems to be overstepping their boundaries and infringing on states rights.
My opinions stem from several fronts. First, I am a Christian who politically leans conservative (some might even say ultra conservative but that’s left to the opinion of the beholder). Second, my wife and I homeschool our 3 children (ages 9, 11 and 14 and grades 4, 6 and 10 next year). Third, I teach in a public schol in Missouri as a Math teacher.
So, here goes. First, yes, the Federal Government is overstepping their boundaries. Education is not an area given to them by the constitution and, therefore, is granted to the states by the 10th Amendment. I believe even the establishment of the Education Department overstepped these boundaries. However, even if the Education is okay, the law that created the department specifically states that they are not to pass a specific curriculum on to the states. (20 U.S.C. § 3403 : US Code – Section 3403: Relationship with States)
Second, by virtue of the fact that it is a National Common Standard, it will be more rigorous (a term wide-open for a definition) than the current standards for some states and less rigorous than others. The Math CCSS appears to be more rigorous than the current Missouri standards.
Third, for many states, Missouri included, implementation will violate the state’s law and/or constitution. For instance, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) adopted the new standards without involving the State’s legislative bodies. Depending on who you ask, that may have violated state law (I’m still trying to locate the state statute involved). However, at the least, it violates state lae against unfunded mandates given the high cost to districts of full implementation which includes online testing and, as such, significant improvements to technolgy infrastructure.
Fourth, by virtue of the interstate consortia running the testing, chances of national data mining are high (or even guaranteed depending on who you read). This raises serious privacy issues.
Finally, one place I separate clearly from the opponents to the CCSS is their issue with the fact that the SAT and ACT college entrance exams will be modified to meet the standards. Here’s the thing with that: those tests are already aligned to some standard. My son, my only high schooler so far has already begun studying for those. The one advantage I see with the CCSS is that now those tests will be aligned to EVERY states’ standards rather than whatever is being used now.
In conclusion, I don’t appreciate federal government officials making decisions about the day-to-day content of my classroom. That should be based solely on the needs of my students…just like my wife and I are able to do at home.