Should California Abandon Common Core Standards?

Doug Lasken, writing for Flash Report, examines the recent focus on education in Mitt Romney’s campaign speeches. Lasken, a retired teacher, predicts that the resurgent education topic will continue to get speech time as it is commonly held that Romney needs ‘women’s votes’ and education is a strong ‘women’s issue’.

Lasken praises Romney’s criticism of the teaching unions as union control of Democratic policy and policymakers is a politically sensitive spot for Democrats and the president. Likewise being pro-charter is effectively a continuation of an anti-union policy and will garner votes.

The question for Romney is whether, by relying on anti-union, pro-charter and voucher issues, he has maximized the vote-getting power of education. I would say he has not, simply because no one thinks that issues of teacher union power and charters are going to be resolved at the Presidential level.

Lasken argues that this year Democrat’s will compete for the anti-union vote, as evidence by the Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s defection from his old union brethren. Villaraigosa, who Lasken claims is seeking a cabinet post in the next Obama Administration, was union backed in his elections to both the state assembly and his current mayoral office, but has since publicly condemned union resistance to tenure and teacher evaluation reforms. He called unions an ‘unwavering roadblock’ to the improvement of public education in Los Angeles. He is also not the only Democratic mayor to have come out against the unions in the last year. If anti-union voters can be persuaded that the Obama Administration will take a tough line with unions then suddenly a whole host of what would normally be Republican votes are up for grabs.

What to do then? I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Romney attack Obama’s signature education initiative, The Common Core Standards (CCS). You may have assumed that Romney had already attacked CCS, as it represents Obama’s sole effort to impact our failing schools, but he has not, nor have most of the GOP.

Lasken is bemused that the Republicans haven’t condemned CCS yet. He considers them a wholly unnecessary and ludicrously expensive waste of time. CCS are essentially new academic standards which the state must buy, with money from their own pocket, to replace their current standards.

The bill for California is $2 billion (Per the non-profit EdSource). In California we already have world-class standards, but we’re buying these anyway. Where will the money come from? No one knows, except that it won’t come from the feds. Where the money is going is easy to say: the publishing, testing and teacher training industries. The net benefit of the new standards for American students, per the Brookings Institute: Zero.