In 2009 the Obama administration announced Race to the Top, a $4.45 billion contest created to federalize K-12 education. States competed for a slice of the pie, and those that conformed were more likely to “win” additional funding for their public schools. Not surprisingly many states adopted new policies to make their applications more competitive, and 46 states adopted common standards as a result.
Washington was one of the states to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) during this time, but unfortunately did not “win” federal dollars from either of the first two rounds. But the bills for CCSS have been adding up ever since. Apparently state legislators don’t consider it part of basic education anymore, as neither the House or Senate provided specific funds for implementation in their respective budget proposals.
That means the burden of paying for CCSS is being kicked down to local school districts instead, along with expansive bureaucracy and stifling federal regulations. However the true cost of CCSS is far greater than that. It also denies us the wisdom, innovation, and accountability that comes from local communities. Even though legislators approved CCSS in 2010, no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools.
The estimated state level cost of implementing CCSS totals $17 million over five years. The cost to districts is estimated to be $165 million over five years. Some of that money has already been invested in the transition to the federal standards, but it’s not too late to reclaim local control and save the rest. Opposition to CCSS has been growing in Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio and the movement now includes bipartisan support.
Public schools ought to be accountable not to a distant federal government, but to their local communities and taxpayers. They should be responsible for working with community members, parents and students to develop programs that meet their needs, and they should make learning visible, so everyone knows what students are achieving. Federalized education is not the solution Washington students and teachers need, it’s time to reconsider our commitment to Common Core.
~ Honest Educator
(Another perspective on CCSSI is given at “The Invisible Serf’s Collar,” here.)
(Link to a sample of Common Core Lesson Plans from the “Lesson Planet.”)