chuck-grassley

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recently wrote a preface for a new white paper release by the Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project written by Robert Scott, the former Texas Education Commissioner, and outspoken critic of the Common Core State Standards.

The paper is entitled “A Republic of Republic: How Common Core Undermines State and Local Autonomy over K-12 Education.”  Grassley writes:

The system of federalism outlined in the U.S. Constitution is not a technicality nor was it an accident. It was designed to make the government accountable to the people by placing power locally. The question of what content students should be taught has enormous consequences for children. It should go without saying, but it bears repeating, that no one has a greater right than the parents to determine what is best for their child. As a result, parents should directly control as much of their child’s education as possible. When the government makes decisions that affect children’s education, these decisions should be made at the level of government close to the parents and students affected.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative was supposed to be a voluntary effort between states, but federal incentives have distorted the normal state decision-making process. The selection criteria designed by the U.S. Department of Education for the Race to the Top Program provided that for a state to have a realistic chance to compete for funds, the state must commit to adopting a “common set of K-12 standards.” These standards matched the descriptions of the Common Core. The final Common Core Standards were released only two months before a deadline for states applying for Race to the Top to provide evidence of having adopted “common standards,” which cut short any meaningful public debate about whether a state should adopt the standards. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Education has also made adoption of standards meeting the description of the Common Core a condition to receive a state waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. As a result, states that might otherwise want to revisit their decision to adopt Common Core Standards will have to think twice about risking their waiver.

I seek to eliminate further U.S. Department of Education interference with state decisions on academic content standards by using Congress’s power of the purse to prohibit any further federal funds being used to advance any particular set of academic content standards. Whether states adopt or reject the Common Core Standards should be between the citizens of each state and their state elected officials. State governments must be able to make that decision, or to change their decision, based on direct accountability to the citizens of their states, free from any federal coercion.

You can read the whole thing here.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr (CC-By-SA 2.0)

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