In politics, as in life, there’s no shame in admitting that a decision made in haste or passion turned out, upon deeper reflection, to have been a mistake. That’s why Americans for Prosperity is hoping Colorado will take a time-out, for a careful second look, before plunging ahead with the latest federal education fad called Common Core.
State leaders of both parties were no doubt well-intentioned when they jumped aboard this bandwagon year ago. Washington can be very persuasive when promising something that’s too good to be true, using the leverage of federal funding to entice state cooperation. But so much troubling new information has come to light since Colorado gave Common Core the green light that this would be a good time to pause, take a breath, look at the problems Common Core is creating elsewhere, and give this initiative a second look.
Anyone can make the mistake of leaping before you look. But there’s still time to deploy a parachute before the unfortunate impacts of this initiative are felt in Colorado schoolrooms.
It’s hard in a short piece to explain all that’s wrong with Common Core. Please take time to do your own research. But the biggest single problem, which Common Core shares with all the federal education fads that came before it, is that it unnecessarily invites Washington into matters that state and local governments can handle themselves. If the unfolding Obamacare debacle teaches anything, it’s that Washington doesn’t know best — that it’s no more competent or qualified than state or local governments are to tackle such important issues.
Common Core is to education what Obamacare is to healthcare. Both efforts are likely to create many more problems than they “fix.” Both programs were sold as big visions and worthwhile reforms, while important but devilish details were left to be worked out later. It’s only natural, under such circumstances, that execution has been a disaster.
Common Core promises tougher standards and better results, which purportedly will help restore America’s lost luster as an education superpower, even while dumbing-down critical skills like math and English — as only Washington’s uniformity-obsessed educrats can. America’s public education system became a model for the world long before Jimmy Carter created a U.S. Department of Education in 1979. And has public education improved as a result of all the subsequent federal interventions? Obviously not. The more feds have meddled, in fact, the worse things seem to have become, much to the detriment of the schools and students Washington promised to “help.”
The more Americans learn about Common Core, the more questions and concerns arise, on everything from the watered-down standards to the politically-correct classroom content, centralized student data tracking or too much new “teaching to the test.” As the realities of Common Core belatedly become apparent to parents, teachers, administrators and school board members, a backlash is building, which has some states turning thumbs down and others taking a second look.
We think Common Core is wrong for Colorado. But we invite you to make up your own mind about that after hearing from Dr. Sandra Stotsky, one of Common Core’s most qualified and respected critics, at a free event at the Midtown Arts Center, in Fort Collins, between 6:30 and 8:30 pm on January 27. Stotsky, a renowned educator ion innovator, sat on an advisory group that helped create Common Core, but has since become a critic of the program. Her observations aren’t rooted in ideology or partisanship – but in her passion for public education innovation and excellence.
Follow this link to find the registration sites for both events.
Colorado isn’t the only state that jumped aboard this bandwagon before flaws in the concept became so apparent. But how we handle this situation now, or mishandle it, is critical, with real-world consequences in our classrooms for decades to come. Other states have been applying the brakes, in order to take another look, and Colorado should too.
Contact your school boards, legislators and the governor with your thoughts and concerns about Common Core.
Dustin Zvonek is the Colorado State Director of Americans for Prosperity, the nation’s largest free-market grassroots organization.