What is Common Core? Many parents are asking this question as they recently become aware of the program. Common Core is nationalized education – one-size-fits-all learning standards imposed on all states and school districts by the federal government. It is not state led. It is not voluntary. Neal McCluskey of the CATO Institute does a nice job delving into this fact in his articles referred to below.

Yet, time and time again, the political pundits and supporters refer to Common Core as “state led and voluntary”. Why? Because nationalized education evokes a natural repulsion in Americans, especially regarding our kids’ education. After all, American public schools have historically been managed on a state/local level until the federal government got their foot in the door in 1965 with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Then, the Department of Education came along in 1979 establishing a little bit more federal involvement. The door was opened further under George W. Bush with the No Child Left Behind law. Yet, there is absolutely nothing in the U.S. Constitution authorizing the federal government to meddle in education. To the contrary, the Tenth Amendment states that authority lies with the states or the people.

I know – I know. Anyone who suggests Common Core is nationalized education imposed by the federal government is characterized as a kook or a conspiracy theorist. Yet, all you have to do is follow the money.

Common Core was strong-armed onto the states through the stimulus package. It was a bribe. In other words, if a cash-starved state wanted to compete for a portion of the $800 billion stimulus plan via President Obama’s Race to the Top program, it had to adopt Common Core. As an additional carrot, any state that adopted Common Core could obtain a waiver to No Child Left Behind, which had been a complete disaster. It is no wonder why most states promised to adopt Common Core before the final standards were even published. Neal McCluskey discusses this federal coercion in his May article for CATO at Liberty. Stop Insulting Our Intelligence by Neal McCluskey, CATO at Liberty. I agree with his take that,

There’s simply no way to call Core adoption ‘voluntary’, unless you think bribing someone with money you took from them, or giving them just two ways to stop you throttling them, is absolute voluntarism.

Moreover, President Obama seeks to make Common Core a permanent fixture in our schools by attaching annual federal funding to its use, and to performance on related tests.

In fact, President Obama proposes changing Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – of which NCLB is just the most recent reauthorization – to a program called ‘College-and Career-Ready Students,’ with an annual appropriation of over $14 billion.

Common Core End Game by Neal McCluskey, CATO at Liberty (March 2014)

For those Americans who have started to catch on that Common Core is nationalized education, certain states like Arizona and Iowa are simply changing the name. This tactic demonstrates how desperate supporters are to get this monstrosity entrenched in our schools.

Speaking to the Council of Chief State School Officers, one of the two professional organizations that created the Core, likely Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee captured the tactic in one succinct sentence: ‘Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat.’

Full Facts Needed on the Common Core by Neal McClusky, CATO at Liberty (January 2014)

So, to recap, Common Core is a national program. It is not state led. It is not voluntary. And those who argue otherwise are simply ignoring or outright misstating the facts.

Lori Rardon

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