Federal takeover of instruction will cost Washington state more than $300 million--new exit strategy for states emerges
A national journal reports that Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction now admits that the cost of implementing the national Common Core Standards Initiative here will exceed $300 million.
The Common Core Standards Initiative are new learning standards imposed on Washington state by the federal government, soon to be followed by a federally- financed test and federal curriculum. Experts on standards are warning that the quality of these standards is mediocre and not internationally benchmarked, as advertised. Nor will they prepare Washington students for college or the workplace, as advertised. They mandate a teaching of geometry that has never been used. They will not purge from Washington classrooms the failing Discovery Math series responsible for confusing and discouraging math study in an entire generation of students. They will require that half the reading texts assigned by English teachers must be non-fiction. In Massachusetts, this means that teachers have been forced to drop literary masterpieces of the American tradition, including Moby Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Huckleberry Finn. The science and technology standards will not teach our students what they need to know, as I show here. Teachers will have to change the questions they ask students under these standards, as I show here.
Last week in Scottsdale, Arizona, on December 1, 2011, the Education Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) took the first step in passing model legislation (sponsored by the Goldwater Institute, Washington Policy Center and the American Principles Project) to provide states an exit strategy from the Common Core Standards Initiative. The Education Task Force considered persuasive the many compelling arguments against the Common Core presented in Closing the Door to Innovation, a statement signed by 350 prominent education policymakers, researchers, teachers and parents. Many states are now considering introducing this legislation.
At this moment, budget writers here are going line-by-line through the state budget, looking for savings. They can defund efforts to introduce the Common Core standards to Washington’s teachers. Budget writers should require an independent audit of the true cost of implementing this program here. Better still, they could introduce the ALEC legislation, to allow Washington state to reject increased federal control over instruction.
The Common Core Standard Initiative is yet another unfunded mandate imposed by the federal government upon Washington's school districts. This initiative tosses aside the considerable amount of money, time and effort previously invested by Washington state to improve our own standards, curricula and tests.
Budget writers who seek to improve the schools can do so without spending a dime: change state law to allow schools to fire bad teachers. Removing bad teachers from classrooms will help school administrators improve instruction far more than the costly Common Core Standards Initiative.