The Decline and Fall of Common Core?

Plagued with problems, states are dropping standards.

To the understandable relief of countless children and even more parents, Common Core may not remain so common. The grand scheme of centralized education that hijacked classrooms nationwide to align instruction and ideology with Big Brother isn’t passing the test. And while reports of Common Core’s demise might be premature — government programs are the closest things to eternal life on earth — America’s short-lived love affair with the program is quickly coming to an end.

One year before Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were finalized in 2010, 46 states formally endorsed the effort. Not because they thought the still-unknown national standards would lead to an educational rebirth but because billions in Race to the Top Bottom federal grant money was tied to states’ willingness to comply with Washington’s agenda.

Fast forward a few years, and states began to tell Washington bureaucrats exactly where they could put their standards. In 2014, Indiana, one of the earliest to sign on to Common Core, became the first state to ditch the standards. All told, dozens of states have either pulled out completely or scaled back participation. After Massachusetts abandoned the standardized tests late last year, even The New York Times admitted that “what was once bipartisan consensus around national standards has collapsed into acrimony.”

And it’s little wonder. As The Federalist’s Joy Pullman notes, “Common Core has by now not only failed academically, it has failed operationally.” For one thing, it seems ObamaCare isn’t the only government fiasco plagued by computer glitches. Last year, major glitches across states wreaked havoc on CCSS testing.

Then there’s academic achievement — or the lack thereof. The federal government promised CCSS would improve educational outcomes. Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in 2010, “millions of U.S. schoolchildren, parents, and teachers will know, for the first time, if students truly are on-track for colleges and careers.”

Then, again, if you want to keep your doctor…

Well, as Pullman writes, a recent report from the Brookings Institution found “American children are receiving objectively worse academic instruction because of Common Core,” and “Common Core has done nothing to help children learn more overall.” Specifically, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), which is widely accepted as the measurement of student achievement over time, has not shown any significant impact from Common Core over the past six years.

Imagine that. Another government program failing. Unthinkable.

Furthermore, Ze'ev Wurman, former U.S. Department of Education Senior Policy Advisor under George W. Bush, notes, “[A]ll the data we have — from ACT/SAT, through AP course taking, through early enrollment in algebra that was the hallmark of U.S. improvement in the last two decades, and to the NAEP scores — all point one way: down. I couldn’t find a single piece of objective educational data that looks improved or at least hopeful.”

Any teacher who has tried to tell a child why 7+7=14 but only by way of 10 would agree.

Maybe that’s why this year, just 20 states plus Washington, DC, plan to use Common Core standardized tests — a far cry from the 46 that signed on with such enthusiasm.

And even in states still drinking the CCSS Kool-Aid, not all parents and students are on board. In New York, for example, last year approximately 20% of students opted out of the standardized tests. This year, the number may be even higher. In Allendale Elementary School outside of Buffalo, a whopping 87% opted out. On Long Island, nearly 50% of students said no to the tests.

Parents and students aren’t the only ones fed up with Common Core. Teachers have also had enough. One teacher even posted an apology to students for the harm Common Core inflicts.

If there is one bright spot, it’s that Common Core is so disastrous that it’s inspired many parents to reclaim control over their children’s education. More and more parents are turning to homeschooling, and many cite Common Core as the reason.

To borrow a phrase from the 1987 classic “Princess Bride,” Common Core may still only be “mostly dead,” but in this case, there’s no true love around to revive it.

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