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Factsheet #96 on Education and K-12 Federal Policy Issues

December 20, 2011

NATIONAL EDUCATION STANDARDS: An Exit Strategy for States

Imposing Centralized Education Authority

  • Unprecedented Federal Overreach: President Obama’s push for national standards and tests is an unprecedented federal overreach into education. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is entangled with federal incentives and policy and would significantly weaken state control over the content taught in local schools.
  • More Federal Strings, Less Parental Control: With little public notice, many states have agreed to adopt the Common Core national standards. This movement is a challenge to education freedom in America and costly in terms of liberty—not to mention dollars. State leaders who believe in limited government and liberty should resist this imposition of centralized standards-setting.
  • Surrender of State Education Authority: State constitutions and statutes demonstrate that the responsibility to define and implement standards, assessments, and curricula lies with states and local school districts. As many states move to adopt and implement national standards and tests—an unprecedented surrender of state educational authority—conservatives should call on state leaders to reverse course and stop ceding standards-setting and curricular control to national organizations and Washington.
  • A Threat to Education Freedom: The push for centralized control over what every child should learn is a challenge to educational freedom in America. State leaders should work to improve excellence in their local schools through state and local policy.

 Factsheet 96 Graphs

Restoring State Education Authority

  • Determine How State Ceded Its Authority: To get off the Common Core national standards bandwagon, state leaders and concerned citizens should first find out how the state adopted the standards. For most states, the state board of education, which has wide-ranging authority over standards and assessments, is the body that made the decision to adopt the standards. Advocates of federalism should be concerned that their state officials have ceded authority of the standards and assessments that drive what is taught in local schools to distant, national organizations.
  • Prohibit Spending for Standards Implementation: Overhauling existing state standards and assessments to implement the Common Core would be a costly endeavor for states. Governors and state policymakers concerned with the national standards push can refuse to expend any state or local resources to align state standards, tests, curricula, or professional development with the Common Core national standards and tests.
  • Determine How to Reverse Course: The rushed adoption of the Common Core in many cases preceded the elections of 2010, which brought in new governors, legislators, and school board members. Conservative leaders should be concerned about the authority handed to centralizers by their predecessors and take steps to reverse course.

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