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January 2015 Policy Study, Number 15-1


Why the Common Core Is Bad for Iowa!


Problems with the CCSS



One of the major arguments against the CCSS is about the standards being research based.  The groups that worked on the CCSS argue that these standards are based on research, but Bill Gates has gone on the record as stating that it will be ten years before we have enough research to know if these standards are working.[22]  Bill Gates also stated that “identifying common standards is just the starting point.  We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards.”[23]  All school administrators claim that these are standards, not curriculum, but if the largest private donor to this effort is telling us that we won’t know if this is successful until the tests and curriculum are aligned, it seems the schools don’t have much choice.  I think this is a huge gamble to take with my children’s education!


When you take standards that apply to everyone and you require proficiency, then you naturally have to lower them to pertain to everyone.  An article from the Des Moines Register speaks to the lack of rigor of the CCSS:


James Milgram, professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University, determined that the CCSS mathematics standards leave American students two grade levels behind their peers internationally by the time they reach seventh grade. He also found that they don't prepare students for admission into highly selective universities and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs.


The English standards are also suspect. Sandra Stotsky, professor of education reform emeritus at the University of Arkansas, argues that CCSS's ‘diminished emphasis on literature in the secondary grades makes it unlikely that American students will study a meaningful range of culturally and historically significant literary works before graduation.’[24]


Another big issue is the loss of student and family privacy. In order for states to qualify for Stimulus Bill funding, the federal Department of Education required the individual states to build expensive databases to track student data and progress. This database is to include the following information: 


[E]ducational data, test scores, homework completion, extracurricular activity, health care history, disciplinary record, family income range, family voting status, political affiliations, religious affiliation, housing information, bus information, telephone information, family government assistance information, personality traits, work techniques and effort etc., over 400 data points in all.[25]


As you review this information I believe that it is easy for you to understand why there are questions and why educated people are questioning the implementation of these national standards.  Not to mention that there are laws that prevent the federal government from “directing, supervising, or controlling elementary and secondary school curriculum, programs of instruction, and instructional materials.”[26]  Well, if the federal Department of Education is controlling the money and the testing, I am fairly sure that teachers are teaching a curriculum that aligns completely with the test!  Because a school district would lose federal money if its test scores aren’t high enough.


The adoption of the CCSS by the states was not optional. Any state that wanted to apply for “Race to the Top” funding had to adopt the CCSS in order to apply. Also, if any state wanted to apply for the waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, the state was required to adopt the CCSS. Rather than a choice for the states, it is another instance of the federal government using taxpayers’ money to blackmail, and this is why 45 states and Washington, D.C., originally adopted them.  Many states adopted these standards without seeing the finalized standards.




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