Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Even More on the Core

Previous posts at Right Detour asserted that some kind of common core knowledge standards, even national standards to facilitate measurements between states, makes sound pedagogical sense. See herehere, and here. Doubts remain about whether or not the CCSS pushed by the Obama Administration is the right set of standards. They have not been tested and will probably end up creating a multitude of additional problems similar to those the emerged after the Bush administration's push for "No Child Left Behind."

Objections beyond the question of pedagogy have been raised. Most of these seem ideologically based and only clutter the debate over national standards in general and the CCSS in particular. Many of these objections come across simply as "sloganeering" or "mudslinging" with the hopes that something sticks.

"CCSS creates a profit windfall for publishers promoting it"

Although true, it is not new. Curriculum developers, test developers, and textbook publishers have always made money for schools--public and private.

"Bill Gates stands to even make more money" 

Over at the Cato Institute, they saw now evidence that Gates will profit from CCSS. (The verdict is still on on Pearson Publishing.) Bill Gates involves himself in education and other public issues through his foundation, which exists because he gave money.

"Parents should control the education of their children"

Unless you home school, you have little say in how your children or educated.

"The CCSS destroys local control"

Local school systems have not exercised control for decades. Local school district hire teachers and do the hard work of trying to education children. In most states, however, they do not develop learning outcomes/ standards,  curriculum, or select the textbooks.

"The CCSS destroys state control"

This has an element of truth. States and locality should be leery when some senator, representative, or any candidate for one of those offices promises to "bring home the bacon" in the form of federal funds. The money more often then not comes with strings attached that coerce the state or local receiver of these funds to comply with a regulation placed by a lawmaker or bureaucrat. The CCSS does just that. It sets core standards and demands expensive testing of those skills. Some critics claim that CCSS requires that certain content be taught in schools and will eventually control textbook content.

On the contrary, the CCSS, at least for English and math, are standards of skills, not knowledge. It remains to be seen how the CCSS will approach history, social studies, and science.

Whether or not this demonstrates "control" is problematic. Some people talk as if the federal government already controls education--that is took over education years ago. States have the right, however, to reject most federal guidelines. In Georgia, for example, the federal government funds about ten percent of the state's education budget. The states spends 6,957,101,968. Local expenditures amount to 5,868,540,069. The federal government provides only 1,236,063,472.

For more one federal funding of education see  here

This brings up the most fundamental objection to CCSS: its lack of constitutional authorization.

The Constitution does not grant authority of the federal government to exercise any role in the various state education systems, especially a compulsory role. Now granted, the states can turn down federal aid. But it amounts of compulsion when the federal government takes tax dollars from the citizens of the states and then offers to return the money with strings attached.

This becomes especially evident given the current fiscal irresponsibility in Washington D. C. If the government was offering money from a budget surplus that came with strings attached, that is one thing. For the federal government to make the same offer while running trillion dollar deficits, is unconscionable.

No comments: