Common Core Standards: Why States Are Now Saying, ‘No, Thank You’

The opposition to the Common Core State Standards is rapidly growing. Where does your state stand?

The lack of a trial period for the Common Core has left many people questioning whether implementing the standards is good for education in their state. (Photo: Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images)

May 28, 2013· 2 MIN READ
Suzi Parker is a regular contributor to TakePart. Her work also appears in The Christian Science Monitor and Reuters.

All but four states have adopted the complete Common Core Standards.

Those four states—Texas, Virginia, Alaska, and Nebraska—have been slow to warm to the uniform, but divisive, national standards for public school testing. Minnesota chose to adopt only the reading standards and declined the math standards.

Meanwhile, several other states, according to the Associated Press, are pushing back against the standards after formally adopting them, and heated politics are now seeping into the controversy.

Edward Fierros, a Villanova education professor, told TakePart that the standards have both “ardent supporters and loud critics.”

He said, “Many educational experts agree that the CCSS in and of themselves will have a limited impact on improving student learning outcomes. However, states that fail to adopt CCSS or similar lose their eligibility for federal Race to the Top funds or NCLB waivers. States are required to adopt college and career-ready standards, and the CCSS are one way to demonstrate this goal. What is unclear is if states lose their eligibility for federal Race to the Top funds or NCLB waivers if they have already received such funding or been granted an NCLB waiver.”

Earlier this month, Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence suspended his state’s adoption of the Common Core. He signed the Common Core “Pause” bill into law, which stops the implementation of the standards until state agencies, teachers, and taxpayers better understand what is at stake.

“I have long believed that education is a state and local function and we must always work to ensure that our students are being taught to the highest academic standards and that our curriculum is developed by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers,” Pence said at the time.

In Louisiana last week, the state Senate voted against a bill to block implementation of the standards, but only after a roaring debate about the standards and how they are “unduly influenced by the intervention of the federal government.” For now, the standards will go forth in Louisiana.

Similar bills to stop the standards failed earlier this year in Kansas, Missouri, Alabama, and South Carolina. More bills are expected to pop up in legislatures in 2014.

Supporters of the standards say they are better than the mixed bag of educational goals that states previously had without any synergy.

Opponents, however, have varied reasons why they are against the standards.

The Tea Party focuses on the federal control regarding the standards, and Progressives also have issues with them because they could emphasize more standardized testing. Both groups are against the corporate influence around the standards, and some educators feel they didn’t have enough influence in shaping the Common Core.

In New York City, principals sent a letter to New York Education Commissioner John King this month expressing concern over the standards and the testing that accompanies them. They state that the testing doesn’t align with the standards, thus creating a false sense of accuracy about what students are actually learning.

“For these reasons, we would like to engage in a constructive dialogue with you and your team to help ensure that moving forward our New York State Exams are true and fair assessments of the Common Core Standards,” they wrote.

States that have refused to adopt the Common Core are relying on their own standards and are adamant about keeping CCSS out of the classroom. Earlier this month, the Texas House of Representatives voted 140-2 to pass language prohibiting Texas from participating in the standards. Texas, however, has never adopted the standards and likely will not.

As Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry has said more than once, “The academic standards of Texas are not for sale.”

Professor Fierros said that there’s a legitimate question “about whether federal and state budgets will be able to provide the professional support necessary to make the Common Core work for students.”

Mark Naison, a professor at Fordham University and an expert on the Common Core movement, told TakePart that opposition is growing, and more states like Texas may very well reverse their adoption of the standards.

“Because Common Core Standards are being imposed without trial implementation to test their effectiveness, or even see what they mean ‘on they ground’ in actual schools and school districts, they are looking more and more like a full-court press from the government and large corporations overriding the long-standing tradition of local control over public schools,” he said.

“What makes this even more suspect is that test companies like Pearson stand to make huge profits from their implementation. Given this, we can expect opposition to the standards to grow, not diminish in coming years.”