Warnings Sound of Federal Interference via Common Core

Joseph Califano’s 1977 warning about the control of ideas via national school curriculum was resurrected this week in a column by George Will, who quoted it while criticizing President Obama’s Common Core Education Standards. Califano, who was the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in the Carter Administration said:

“in its most extreme form, national control of curriculum is a form of national control of ideas.”

For critics of CCES, it surely feels like today brings the reality of this warning. Sherena Arrington, writing for the TalkingGwinnett.net, sounds the warning bell, focusing on the hazy way in which the curriculum was written and “forced” onto the states.

Almost every state in the nation has rushed to join the Common Core curriculum movement with hardly a thought of the cost, financial or otherwise. In most cases, however, the “states” have barely been involved. Simply put, massive educational bureaucracies have signed on to the Common Core and have expected, and generally received, no interference from the three branches of government. Whatever happened to that adage, “Look before you leap?”

She points out that many states were committing to adopting the Common Core before it was even fully written. States like Georgia weren’t even given an estimate of how much they can expect to spend implementing the standards in their schools. Although Georgia voted nearly $1.3 million for each of the two years specifically to cover the Common Core price tag, in reality all state legislatures are operating in the dark as to the real expense of the initiative.

Further concern is about the authorship of the Common Core. The Federal Government is careful about not claiming authorship, since such direct interference in state school curriculum might be illegal. While forcing the program onto the states via the Constitutional “Spending Clause,” it is at the same time eager to distance itself from actual credit for its creation.

Two organizations take credit for developing the Common Core “on behalf of” the states, declaring, “These English language arts and mathematics standards represent a set of expectations for student knowledge and skills that high school graduates need to master to succeed in college and careers.” These organizations, both based in Washington, D.C., are the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) along with considerable advice from Achieve, Inc., ACT, the College Board, the National Association of State Boards of Education and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

So far, most states have quietly accepted Common Core as an inevitability, regardless of the fact that it might cost more to adopt them than they receive from the Federal Government, but at least one state is experiencing a bout of second thoughts. After agreeing to implement Common Core last year, the South Carolina Senate is now considering a bill to block the implementation of the math and English portion of the program. The bill has even received support from the South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who wrote a public letter to the bill sponsor Senator Mike Fair, praising the proposed legislation.