After the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, you would think that state legislatures would gladly stand up against any kind of perceived takeover by the federal government.
In Colorado, however, this has not been the case. Last month, Colorado Democrats shot down a proposal to delay the implementation of common core standards for a year.
This was a clear example of how liberals in Washington D.C. are constantly reaching for more and more control over states and localities – and the Democrats in Colorado keep rolling out the red carpet for them.
In order to encourage the implementation of common core, the federal government used its usual playbook – dangling money out there for the states to use (don’t forget about our $17 trillion national debt). States were looked upon more favorably for “Race to the Top” funds if they decided to adopt common core standards.
Coercion? Well, this certainly seems to be about as “voluntary” as the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare was found to be by the Supreme Court (hint: not voluntary at all).
The very reason our country was founded on the principle of federalism was so that the states could be the laboratories of democracy. Throughout our history, we have trusted states and localities, and we have been vehemently opposed to having a central government make decisions for everyone on every issue.
We must continue to keep in mind that embracing a market approach to policy is important – and that having a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to government simply leads to worse outcomes.
Regardless of the problem of federal control, adopting common core does not even guarantee improved educational outcomes.
Just like handing uninsured individuals health insurance cards does not guarantee that they will receive timely quality care, handing schools and teachers new standards doesn’t mean students will actually master them.
There is no doubt that we want accountability, but when we change the standardized testing every few years, how can we possibly know if we are being effective or not?
So, if improving educational outcomes is the ultimate goal, where is the focus?
For the largest teachers union in Colorado, the focus is on opposing the teacher tenure reforms (sponsored by a Democrat) that work to hold teachers accountable. The union is pushing for the forced hiring of tenured teachers that are out of work.
To most reasonable people, it seems like common sense that schools should be able to pick who teaches in their classrooms. If teachers are good, they will have no problem getting hired.
Reforming the teacher tenure laws was a good start, but tenure should be thrown out altogether. It does nothing to benefit students.
In order for our schools to improve, we must accelerate educational innovation, not stifle it through initiatives like common core. Since no student deserves to be stuck in a failing school or one that does not fit his or her needs, we need to increase choice in education.
Lastly, we need to ensure that more funding actually gets to classrooms instead of growing an already bloated educational bureaucracy.
Michael Fields is a 6th grade teacher at a charter school in Aurora, and a Republican candidate for Colorado House District 37.