Why a Conservative Defending “Common Core” Doesn’t Make Sense

The conservative I have in mind is Bob Riley writing at the National Review website, “Why I support Common Core standards.”

The paragraph that, in my opinion, shows fantasyland thinking is this one:

To many educators and parents, the goals of Common Core are eminently reasonable, particularly in states that rank below average or far below average in the all-important areas of math and science education.

Just stop.

Does anyone seriously think that the discrepancy between states is due to differing standards? Does that make any sense at all?

I’ll answer my own rhetorical question. No, the reason some states are below average is because not every state is equal in available students, families, economic resources, and teachers. Anyone would expect that some states would have higher test scores than other states. The standards had nothing to do with it.

Another reason blaming differing standards makes no sense: If the states “voluntarily” suddenly accepted the Common Core standards in order to improve performance, then why did they keep them low before? Did they not care?

There are other problems with Riley’s reasoning:

Today, 25 percent of students in this country fail to graduate from high school. Only 35 percent of eighth-graders perform at grade level in math.

So now fewer students will graduate. And since we already knew that eighth-graders should “perform at grade level in math,” the standards are not going to increase that percentage. All they can do is change enforcement and hold more people back in lower grades.

But the pretense that Common Core are state voluntary standards and not Federal is rather insufferable. American Thinker exposed this back in 2010:

As an incentive, states that adopted the Common Core by August 2, 2010 greatly improved their chances of receiving a share of the $4.35-billion Race to the Top federal grant. The strategy worked: most states adopted the standards. However, only nine states and the District of Columbia were actually awarded the money. All ten of those winners had adopted the standards.

As a penalty, states that failed to adopt the Common Core risked losing funding from Title I, a $14.4-billion program that provides funds for low-income students. Most school districts participate in the Title I program.

Being constrained by Federal rewards and penalties is not a voluntary situation for any state in the union.

There is really only one answer to our educational system: abolish it. Terminate the Department of Education and end all Federal legislation and regulations regarding education (which are all entirely unconstitutional anyway). In my opinion, states should do the same thing. The entire system of public schooling, truancy laws, and any child labor law that isn’t addressing an abusive form of exploitation should all be scrapped.

What is tragic is that most Americans believe that we can’t have widespread literacy and knowledge without a Federally-run public education system. All the historical evidence indicates exactly the opposite.

At best, Common Core is an attempt to feed the beast. It needs to be starved, not fed.