U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave a far-ranging speech at an American Enterprise Institute conference and announced the death of Common Core, at least in her federal agency.
“We need to allow for individualization and customization, and I think a lot of the tasks and trends around personalized and customized learning are really promising,” DeVos told the crowd. “I am very hopeful that more schools go in that direction.”
“I agree — and have always agreed — with President Trump on this: ‘Common Core is a disaster,’” she said. “And at the U.S. Department of Education, Common Core is dead.”
DeVos offered few specifics about a plan for education reform, but emphasized she wants a more state-centered approach with more “parental empowerment.”
The conference covered “lessons learned” about school reform during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
DeVos went on:
Unsurprisingly, nearly every state accepted Common Core standards and applied for hundreds of millions of dollars in “Race to the Top” funds. But despite this change, the United States’ PISA performance did not improve in reading and science, and it dropped in math from 2012 to 2015.
Then, rightly, came the public backlash to federally imposed tests and the Common Core. I agree – and have always agreed – with President Trump on this: “Common Core is a disaster.” And at the U.S. Department of Education, Common Core is dead.
On a parallel track, the Obama administration’s School Improvement Grants sought to fix targeted schools by injecting them with cash. The total cost of that effort was seven billion dollars.
One year ago this week, the Department’s Institute of Education Sciences released a report on what came of all that spending. It said: “Overall, across all grades, we found that implementing any SIG-funded model had no significant impacts on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment.”
There we have it: billions of dollars directed at low-performing schools had no significant impact on student achievement.
So where does that leave us? We saw two presidents from different political parties and philosophies take two different approaches. Federally mandated assessments. Federal money. Federal standards. All originated in Washington, and none solved the problem. Too many of America’s students are still unprepared.
DeVos also discussed one of her favorite topics, school choice.
“Choice in education is not when a student picks a different classroom in this building or that building, uses this voucher or that tax-credit scholarship. Choice in education is bigger than that. Those are just mechanisms,” she said. “It’s about freedom to learn. Freedom to learn differently. Freedom to explore. Freedom to fail, to learn from falling and to get back up and try again. It’s freedom to find the best way to learn and grow… to find the exciting and engaging combination that unlocks individual potential.”
She criticized both No Child Left Behind and Common Core as ineffective at combating problems in American education, noting that the former “did little to spark higher scores.”
DeVos said the Obama administration then “dangled billions of dollars through the ‘Race to the Top’ competition, and the grant-making process not so subtly encouraged states to adopt the Common Core State Standards.”
The objections to Common Core are many. Expert Jane Robbins has always discussed the unconstitutionality of nationalizing education and the use of political coercion to ensure state adoption. There is also the illegality of forcing a national curriculum and the loss of local and parental control over children’s education.
The Common Core standards were supposed to redirect the focus of K–12 English education from “memorizing facts” to more meaningful development of “critical thinking” and “higher order” skills.
But in Common Core English classes, students were to be discouraged from accepting any traditional view of what is good or right or good. Many of the informational texts marketed to align with Common Core promote government-approved values that may or may not align with those of students’ families and their faith.
A principal in New York cancelled a Kindergarten play, so 5-year-olds could spend more time preparing for college and career. Can you imagine a better example of how the Common Core destroys education?
Destroying Common Core at the federal level is just really a good step, it still needs to be destroyed at the state level. There is still a lot of work to do.
Don’t know anything about Common Core? This 5 part series by Dr. Jane Robbins is the best available to do the task:
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