Will Education Standards Be Federalized?

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Courtesy www.cbc.ca

BY RICHARD OLIVASTRO – All the standards that bureaucrats can come up with will not fix the fundamental flaws that progressives have injected into the American education system over the years.

Remember… when how as children we were taught basic arithmetic by rote?

I do.

These days… such classroom gimmicks as rounding, charts, etc. are used to perform basic functions.

Remember… when how as children we were taught geometry and algebra?

I do.

These days… the kids use calculators.

As a consequence, our children and grandchildren have had little – or no – foundation upon which to build ‘mental muscle’ and develop their individual thinking skills.

The plain truth is that has been the case for decades.

As a result, teaching practices have been a major factor in making many young minds lazy, while irrigating the weeds of poor learning habits.

It should surprise no one that the effects of all this spills over to other behavioral habits as well.

** * * *

Enter the so-called Common Core State Standards initiative promoted by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.

The initiative establishes common standards for math and English language arts by setting exactly what students are expected to learn in those subjects in each grade of K-12.

According to proponents, CCSS will enable participating states to:

Articulate to parents, teachers, and the general public expectations for students;
Align textbooks, digital media, and curricula to the internationally benchmarked standards;
Ensure professional development for educators is based on identified need and best practices;
Develop and implement an assessment system to measure student performance against the common core state standards; and
Evaluate policy changes needed to help students and educators meet the common core state college and career readiness standards.

Those objectives are quite general.

Which makes one wonder all the more given the axiomatic truth that ‘the devil lies in the details?

* * * * *

Could CCSS be the beginning of the federal government’s attempt to nationalize education?

That’s what concerns many around our nation.

Heretofore, each state defined its state standards.

And, home rule of public schools and local control of curriculum has long been a wise tradition.

The no pun intended “core” question:

Why has student performance scores deteriorated in so many locations?

Could that reality be due to the combination of aggressive-progressive influence on past and current curriculum selection in combination with – in general – the unfortunate reduction of parental involvement in their own children’s education?

The capitulation by growing numbers of adult citizens to whatever government bureaucrats say, want to do, or unilaterally undertake, likely has more to do with the very real weaknesses in education – as well as other arenas in our society – than most people seem willing to admit or even thoughtfully consider.

* * * * *

Where does the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative stand?

It is further along than most realize.

More than three-quarters of the states have or seem ready to fall in line with the federally preferred initiative.

But, several states have refused to fold.

And, a number of individuals have blown the proverbial whistle to alert the people in other states.

* * * * *

In four states – Massachusetts, California, Virginia, and Minnesota – officials “want assurances the national standards will not dilute existing state frameworks”.

They say they would balk “… if the Obama administration effectively makes them mandatory”.

That sounds strong.

But, the administration has more than $14 Billion dollars to weigh on the states via mandates in order to implement federal dogma.

* * * * *

More decisively, Alaska and Texas refused to participate.

Here’s a snippet:

Texas Governor Rick Perry stated “I will not commit Texas taxpayers to unfunded federal obligations or to the adoption of unproven, cost-prohibitive national standards and tests”.

Good call, Governor Perry.

* * * * *

Rather, what the U.S. needs is 50 individual laboratories of education trying different systems and approaches – understood and supported by parents – in order to persistently ‘raise the bar’ of state and local standards.

So, stopping federal encroachment in education delivery is essential.

That’s what a number of involved individuals and officials are trying to do in several of the remaining states.

Unfortunately, that is easier said than done considering entrenched progressives, special interests and even politics.

Here’s an example reflecting that.

In Alabama, at this writing, the state board of education is reported to be “on track to approve the Common Core State Standard initiative”.

But, one board member Stephanie Bell blew the whistle:

“A lot of this is being pushed out of Washington. It’s not immune from federal influence.”

Ms. Bell asked other members of the state school board “Why are we doing this so quickly?”

“Why not wait until January, when we have a new governor and board? This may be something they don’t buy into.”

Those are all appropriate questions.

But, outgoing board member Ethel Hall and State School Superintendent Joe Morton insist they will go ahead with CCSS anyway.

Imagine that.

It suggests that lame duck virus has spread from Washington to Montgomery.

* * * * *

Perhaps, that’s what prompted Dr. Robert Bentley – Alabama’s Governor-Elect – to stand up and publicly call on the state board of education to delay its vote.

Bentley said “the vote… should be postponed until newly elected board members are seated.

Dr. Bentley prescription: “the standards should be determined by local school boards and parents, not the federal government”.

Alabama next governor did not see this column before arriving at the same conclusion:

The unstated goal of the Common Core State Standards initiative is to federalize and centralize government control of education.

What do you think?

Tell us via the online poll at www.KeySurveys.us.

We’ll report the poll results here next week.

Richard Olivastro is president of Olivastro Communications; a professional member of the National Speakers Association; and, founder of Citizens For Change (www.CFC.us). He can be reached via email: RichOlivastro@gmail.com; telephone: 877.RichSpeaks.

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