Through all the raging debates coming out of the first year of Trump’s presidency, there has been one hot button issue which has been noticeably absent. What ever happened to Common Core? That concept, first unleashed primarily by Democrats as soon as Barack Obama was sworn into office, was a serious bone of contention between liberals and conservatives. The battles over the program were simply epic, with the teachers’ unions fighting tooth and nail over it while many conservatives demanded more local control, tailored to the unique needs of states and communities.
So are there any updates on it? Yes indeed. In a speech this week which didn’t draw a lot of media attention (understandably, given everything else that’s going on), Education Secretary Betsy DeVos weighed in on the program’s current status. Of course, we could have had Dr. Leonard McCoy give the same pronouncement to Captain Kirk on the set of Star Trek. It’s dead, Jim. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave a far-ranging speech today in Washington at an American Enterprise Institute conference, “Bush-Obama School Reform: Lessons Learned.”
She announced the death of Common Core, at least in her federal agency.
“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.”
They have the entire speech available at the linked article and it’s a good one, so take the time to read it over. DeVos pulls no punches and talks about the failure of the original education initiatives crafted by a coalition of George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy. That approach was, as she put it, focused on the stick. Conversely, Common Core was oriented almost entirely on the carrots. Neither produced results and, as a result, countless dollars were flushed down various rat holes while producing few tangible results in public school systems.
So where do we go from here in terms of education? It’s not exactly the sexy, exciting sort of topic that’s likely to be a highlight of the midterms, but the government still needs to address the shortcomings in the public school system. DeVos was ready with a few suggestions, but her description of the importance of school choice was inspiring. I’m extracting one quote from that section for you here.
“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.”
Wouldn’t it be ironic if we actually made some significant strides forward in fixing our largely broken education system during this term, but had it sneak through under the radar while everyone else was busy screaming at each other about whether or not the President’s cholesterol level is too high? This was one of the better speeches on education that’s been given in a long time. The question is how much DeVos will be able to hammer through without politics poisoning the entire process.
But in the meantime, as far as Common Core goes… it’s dead, Jim.