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Arne Duncan the Common Core Bully

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Neal McCluskey Comment: I don't really need to go any further than the statement itself to prove that, contrary to "Fat Tony" Duncan's protestations, it is not a "conspiracy theory" to say that the Common Core is "nationally imposed." But let's rehearse the litany one more time:

  • In 2008 the National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, Inc.--the main Common Core architects-- called for federal "incentives-- to get states to adopt "a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts."

  • President Obama's $4.35-billion Race to the Top required that states, to be fully competitive for grants, adopt national standards.

  • Race to the Top contained $330 million that Washington is using to fund development of two national tests to go with the Common Core.

  • The President's " blueprint" to reauthorize No Child Left Behind would make national standards the backbone of federal accountability.

  • To get waivers from No Child Left Behind's most onerous provisions, a state has to either adopt the Common Core or have a state college system declare that the state's standards are "college- and career-ready." Of course, this came after almost every state had already adopted the Common Core.

  • Why is Duncan lashing out? Quite possibly, he's reacting to a recent spate of research and commentary attacking the Common Core based on its highly dubious legality, quality, and odds of success. That South Carolina is considering backing out--though the Palmetto State effort fell short in a Senate subcommitte--might have pushed Duncan over the edge. I mean, how dare those people try to buck what Duncan and his boss were not in any way trying to get them to do!

    Unfortunately, as failure in the South Carolina committee reinforces--and I warned last week--it is unlikely that many states will formally boot what they've already adopted. The time to fight to keep the Common Core out of states was before Race to the Top decisions were made, as we at the Center for Educational Freedom did. Of course, it was off most people's radars during that crucial time because that was exactly what national-standards supporters wanted. And it's what their ongoing dissembling about Washington's heavy hand is intended to continue.

    Thankfully, that strategy seems to not be working so well anymore.

    by Shane Vander Hart

    What happens when a state decides or some state legislators decide they don't want national standards?-- you know the standards that were slated as optional-- not pushed by the Federal government-- completely developed by the states (meaning the National Governor's Association and Council on Chief State School Officers)? Why Education Secretary Arne Duncan wishes them well and respects their choice right? Right?

    Not so much. Secretary Duncan issued a statement yesterday blasting South Carolina for contemplating a bill, if passed, would block the South Carolina Department of Education from implementing the Common Core State Standards. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is in support of the bill, as is their State School Superintendent Mike Zais. The South Carolina Legislature will hopefully get the chance to vote on it; it's still in committee. This is how the system should work, but here is what Duncan had to say:

    The idea that the Common Core standards are nationally-imposed is a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy. The Common Core academic standards were both developed and adopted by the states, and they have widespread bipartisan support. GOP leaders like Jeb Bush and governors Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, and Bill Haslam have supported the Common Core standards because they realize states must stop dummying down academic standards and lying about the performance of children and schools. In fact, South Carolina lowered the bar for proficiency in English and mathematics faster than any state in the country from 2005 to 2009, according to research by the National Center for Education Statistics.

    That's not good for children, parents, or teachers. I hope South Carolina lawmakers will heed the voices of teachers who supported South Carolina's decision to stop lowering academic standards and set a higher bar for success. And I hope lawmakers will continue to support the state's decision to raise standards, with the goal of making every child college- and career-ready in today's knowledge economy.

    Why is he involving himself in what is a state decision? Then he smears their education system. Who says they won't raise their standards? Because they don't adopt the Common Core? Perhaps they don't want to dumb down their literature standards like the Common Core does. Perhaps they actually want to use math standards that haven't been roundly criticized.

    Secretary Duncan needs to butt out of the affairs of South Carolina and any other state for that matter. His involvement in education and the action that he has taken has been demonstrated to be illegal. Not to mention how costly it would be for the states.

    — Shane Vander Hart & Neal McCluskey
    Caffeinated Thoughts blog & Cato@Liberty





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