When “states signed on to common core standards, they did not realize…that they were transferring control of the school curriculum to the federal government,” said Sandra Stotsky, 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality at the University of Arkansas’s Department of Education Reform, speaking at The Heritage Foundation on Tuesday.
Stotsky and four other education scholars from around the nation met to discuss the Obama Administration’s growing push for Common Core national education standards and why states should resist Washington’s attempt to further centralize education.
The Obama Administration’s press for common education standards is not the first time the federal government has attempted to meddle in school curriculum, as Williamson Evers, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, explained at Tuesday’s event. While the creation of national standards has been led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the standards have been “pushed by the Obama Administration,” explained Evers. “So this is where we are now. The feds are financing the tests. They’re financing model curriculum.”
Federal involvement in curriculum, as attorney Kent Talbert of Talbert & Eitel explained, raises critical legal questions. As he points out in a February report, three federal laws prohibit “federal direction, control, or supervision of curricula, programs of instruction, and instructional materials…in the elementary and secondary school arena.” The Obama Administration’s actions to condition federal Race to the Top funding on a state’s adoption of Common Core standards, as well as the Administration’s recent move to condition No Child Left Behind waivers on a state’s adoption of the standards, runs afoul of these laws.