New K-12 science standards have been introduced with an eye more on depth than breadth and that has caused some to be concerned.
Organizers are hopeful that most, if not all, states will adopt these standards. But they admit from the start that the issues of global-warming and evolution will be stumbling blocks for many. Rachel Sheffield of The Heritage Foundation says these common standards are troubling.
“The introduction of national common core science standards … should be a cause for concern, similarly as the English and the math standards should be a cause for concern — just encroachment on states’ authority to set their own academic standards,” she warns.
Sheffield acknowledges there is a definite need to improve student science scores; however she maintains that centralized standards are not the solution to the problem.
“Centralizing education is not the way to go about doing it. What we need to do is to put more [power] into the [hands] of parents — those closest to the child who can make decisions for students through policies such as school choice that give parents the opportunity to choose the school that best meets their child’s needs,” the researcher contends.
The Common Core Standards has come under fire with critics saying it amounts to nationalizing the education system. In 2010 Colorado adopted the Core standards after a long and at times heated debate.
Angela Schroeder, D-2nd District who voted in favor of the proposals said local control is not absolute and students are competing in a global arena and need to be prepared accordingly.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative website echoes Shroeder’s sentiment saying that with the standards students will be “fully prepared for the future” and that “our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”
Regarding the initiative the website states that they have been designed with the “highest state standards across the country and the globe” and that among the criteria for developing the standards was they were “informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society.”
According to the Core site the standards are not national because the Federal government had no input in adopting the standards. It then repeatedly states that one of the reasons for the initiative is “every state has its own set of academic standards, meaning public education students at the same grade level in each state may be expected to achieve to different levels.”
The Obama administration has insisted that the program is not federal overreach and that participation in the program is strictly voluntary. However, the administration has made participating in the common core standards program one of the key criteria for states applying for Race for the Top funds from the federal government.
Bob Schaffer representative on the CBE for the 4th Congressional District said that during the discussion by the board in 2010 that the pressure to adopt the standards to acquire the federal funds “was enormous, I think it was the only issue.” He also expressed concern that the adoption of the standards would actually result in educational improvement.
“It will set the bar at a common level… another word for common is mediocre” and that with the exception of charter schools “most districts would be satisfied with merely clearing the bar.”
Regarding advocates of the Core concept, Schaffer said they were “the people who believe in five year plans and central planning to come up with one national answer for 50 sovereign states.” Schaeffer did say that he felt the standards were a fad that would change with the next administration and “go the way of no child left behind and before that outcome based education.”