Common Core State Standards Initiative


>>Overview of Common Core Standards (2013-07) VEC r1 <<

Executive Summary

Much like the recent Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which nationalized 16% of the United States economy and erased individual State’s historical and Constitutional responsibility for regulating the health care industry within its borders, the Common Core Standards (CCSS) Initiative is setting the stage for nationalization of the K-12 public education system. It differs in one substantial way from PPACA: the Obama administration has circumvented both existing law and Congress to effect its proposed changes without debate or legislative action.

Existing laws include a rule of construction that limits the ability of federal government officers and its employees to mandate, direct, control curriculum.  For example the Elementary and Secondary School Act of 1965 (ESEA) states:

“Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal Government to mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency, or school’s curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of State local resources, or mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this Act.”

The Department of Education Organization Act (DEOA) imposes similar restrictions with one exception: if such activities are authorized by law (viz., legislation is enacted by Congress).  Even so, under DEOA the primary authority for education continues with state and local governments, as evidenced by DEOA Finding 4:

“In our federal system, the primary public responsibility for education is reserved respectively to the states and local school systems and other instrumentalities of the states.”

Congress has made it clear that these laws were not to be changed without Congress’s expressed permission.  When President Clinton tried to nationalize reading and math testing in 1997, Congress prohibited the use of fiscal year 1998 funds to “field test, pilot test, implement, administer or distribute in any way, any national tests.” Congress further required a detailed review of the Department’s test development contract, directed a study and report by the National Academy of Sciences, and most significantly prohibited the federal government from “[r]equiring any state or local educational agency or school to administer, implement any pilot or field test in any subject or grade” or “[r]equiring any student to take any national test in any subject or grade.” The Obama administration’s program should raise similar concerns for Congress.

Beyond the unconstitutional act of bypassing Congress, CCSS will result in a costly, ineffective bureaucratic “system” that is far removed from its customers – parents and students.  It will minimize the States’ ability to control what students learn – only 15% of content can vary from national standards.  Worse, what is learned is controlled not by the federal government but by two non-profit organizations that developed the model and hold the rights to the Common Core State Standards.  Furthermore, if it is to achieve its goals of making individual students “globally competitive” and “workplace ready” in a “cost-effective” and “efficient” manner, it will need to measure its progress through collection of and access to individual private student data – currently disallowed by Virginia state law.

While Common Core State Standards may seem like “best practice” in the commercial world, in the Federal government world – which has no competitors, can tax without limit, makes and enforces its own laws, and periodically changes parties who may prefer indoctrination over education –  nationalized education is an idea that is antithetical to the concept of a constitutional republic, populated by peoples of diverse ethnicity who value their individual rights.

Virginia Education Coalition (VEC) does support educational reform, better cost efficiencies, and more effective educational delivery, but it does not do so at the expense of nationalizing our educational system and ceding individual rights and States’ rights to a centralized government. Instead, we believe that educational reform is best achieved through parent-led school choice; transparent, open dialogue between educational stakeholders; and promoting policies that provide individuals with maximum freedom and maximum responsibility.