Education & Academia

Sarah Palin was a prophet about Obama’s education takeover

Sarah Palin was the first to recognize the problem: By participating in President Obama’s signature education initiative, the Common Core Standards, Alaska would lose control over its own curriculum.

On May 31, 2009, then-Gov. Palin announced Alaska would adopt a “watch and wait” attitude:

“If this initiative produces useful results, Alaska will remain free to incorporate them,” Gov. Palin said, adding that “high expectations are not always created by new, mandated federal standards written on paper. They are created in the home, the community and the classroom.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, to his credit, was the next to recognize a federal boondoggle when he saw one: “I will not commit Texas taxpayers to unfunded federal obligations or to the adoption of unproven, cost-prohibitive national standards and tests,” Gov. Perry wrote in a Jan. 13, 2010, letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

In the ensuing two years, it’s become clear that Perry and Palin — two core conservative figures whose intelligence is routinely mocked by liberal “sophisticates” — were brilliantly prescient, indeed prophetic.

Common Core Standards turn out to be like Obamacare — you don’t really know what’s in it until after you pass it and are mired in its tentacles.

Today, even more states are waking up to discover that they have lost control of both curriculum and costs for a program that is untested and unlikely to improve student performance. A February study by the Pioneer Institute conservatively estimates that Obama’s Common Core Standards will costs the states at least $16 billion — money that could be used to promote education in other ways.

This past week, Education Week’s blog published a review of criticism for Obama’s Common Core initiative. The shocking thing is how many liberals are now acknowledging Common Core comes at a high cost for little or no return. Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution, for example, wrote, “(T)he most reasonable prediction is that the Common Core will have little to no effect on student achievement.” Joanne Yatvin, a past president of the National Council on Teachers of English, writes, “Taken together, the standards and the criteria project an aura of arrogance and ignorance in their assumptions about how and why children learn.”

Four education experts came together at the Heritage Foundation on April 17 to comment on more problems emerging with the Common Core Standards. A blog post describing the expert panel, titled “Why States Should Hop Off the National Standards Bandwagon,” states:

“When ‘states signed on to Common Core Standards, they did not realize … that they were transferring control of the school curriculum to the federal government,’ explained Sandra Stotsky, 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality at the University of Arkansas’ Department of Education Reform.

“Theodor Rebarber, CEO and founder of AccountabilityWorks, explained, ‘States did almost no cost analysis’ when they signed on to adopt the Common Core Standards, although Rebarber noted, the Pioneer Institute report he authored conservatively estimated the overall national cost for implementing Common Core at a hefty $16 billion.

“Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute warned that the standards create ‘a disincentive to innovators long term.’ Federal involvement in curriculum, as attorney Kent Talbert of Talbert and Eitel explained, may even be illegal because three federal laws prohibit ‘federal direction, control or supervision of curricula, programs of instruction and instructional materials … in the elementary and secondary school arena.’”

A pivotal moment in the history of American education will quietly occur on May 11 in Charlotte, N.C., when the board of the influential (and under fire) conservative American Legislative Exchange Council will meet to decide whether or not to accept its own education task force’s recommendation of model legislation blocking implementation of Obama’s Common Core.

“We eagerly anticipate that the ALEC Board will affirm the task force vote,” said Emmett McGroarty, who works with the American Principles Project, which co-sponsored the Pioneer study and which lobbied for model legislation at ALEC. (Full disclosure: One of my projects, the Culture War Victory Fund, is also housed at APP.)

Obama’s Common Core Standards violate federal laws in order to take over control of curriculum, on behalf of an unproven education initiative that leaves states $16 billion in debt.

Sarah Palin and Rick Perry are proven to be prophets. ALEC, you know what to do.

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