Below is a transcript of the comments made by Civitas Senior Policy Analyst Bob Luebke to the LRC Common Core Study Committee on March 20, 2014.
Good morning to members of the General Assembly and guests. My name is Bob Luebke. I am a Senior Policy Analyst with Civitas Institute and our organization hosts a web site titled StopCommonCoreNC. I appreciate the Committee’s invitation to come and share a few thoughts about Common Core. Today I’m speaking for the Civitas Institute as well as for the many parents, teachers, and concerned citizens who oppose Common Core Standards.
On June 2, 2010 the North Carolina State Board of Education adopted Common Core Standards. The standards emerged out of a national discussion over the decline in the value of a high school diploma and growing concern over America’s poor performance on international tests. Simply stated, the standards were put forth as a way to boost academic achievement, equip students with different skill sets and to aid businesses that needed metrics to make valid comparisons across states. We believe Common Core represents a flawed idea and there are strong reasons to oppose the standards.
Common Core’s one-size-fits-all controlled approach to education makes no sense for a country as vast and diverse as the United States. One of the strengths of American education is its diversity. Common Core’s template will work to eliminate that diversity and homogenize learning across schools and grades.
We believe Common Core will also work to further politicize education. Because the standards transfer power from the states to Washington DC, Common Core centralizes control of education policymaking. In so doing Common Core will subordinate educational interests to political interests and will also upset the healthy system of checks and balances between the state and federal government.
But let’s walk away from the politics and examine the arguments for Common Core. Those who support the standards say we need Common Core to improve student achievement and our economic competiveness. Implicit in such thinking is an assumed linkage between standards and student achievement and standards and economic growth.
A review of the research fails to find credible evidence for such linkages. Those are the findings of two respected professors: Tom Loveless of Harvard and Christopher Tienken of Seaton Hall University. In a 2012 report, Loveless attempts to predict the impact of Common Core on student achievement. He concluded standards don’t really matter much. He found that from 2003 to 2009 states with terrific standards raised their NAEP scores by the same amount as states with bad standards. In a 2011 article Professor Christopher Tienken cited multiple studies that found no evidence for a link between national standards, performance on international tests and how an economy performs.
It’s not just faulty arguments that give us pause, Common Core standards also violate a fundamental principle of our Constitution; federalism. In a recent publication, Robert Scott, the former Commissioner of Education in Texas commented on how Common Core changes the fundamental relationship between the states and the federal government. Scott said:
By signing on to national standards and the assessments that will accompany them, participating states have ceded their autonomy to design and oversee the implementation of their own standards and tests. The implications of ceding this autonomy are varied. Not only do some states risk sacrificing high quality standards for national standards that may be less rigorous, but all states are sacrificing their ability to inform what students learn.
In closing, let me say we support high academic standards. We believe, however, that North Carolina should develop and administer those standards. Common Core standards generate negatives that far outweigh any perceived benefits. The standards are untested; lack validity; stand in opposition to Constitutional principles; work to limit parental influence, and come with too many important – yet unanswered – questions.
- Why have Common Core standards not been pilot-tested?
- How will Common Core standards affect students, teachers and schools?
- How much will Common Core cost to implement in North Carolina and who will pay the costs?
- In the absence of evidence for a link between standards and economic competitiveness, what reasons argue for maintaining Common Core?
We know members of the Committee are here to help answer those questions. The uncertainty argues for pause and is yet more evidence why we cannot support Common Core. We can support however a transparent process that corrects the current problems through a full review of all academic standards and a process that is committed to ensuring that state standards are North Carolina-centric and the highest possible. Considering all the evidence, we believe this is the best option to move forward and we urge lawmakers to give it every consideration.