Common Core Standards Don’t Homogenize Schools

National Review columnist Josh Gelernter argues America’s founding fathers would reject Common Core State Standards because “centrally planned education is a stupid idea.” “Different men need to know different things… Different parents want their children taught differently.”

Contrary to Gelernter’s claim, Common Core State Standards do not force educators into a rigid model of what they can and cannot teach. In fact, the standards encourage creativity and flexibility by setting rigorous learning goals at each grade level and giving full control over how to meet those targets to local teachers and school boards.

Chester Finn of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute explains, “[Common Core] describes a destination—again, voluntary for states—not the means of getting there.”

Last year, 21 State Teachers of the Year wrote: “The Common is not a federal takeover of our schools, nor does it force teachers into a rigid model for classroom instruction… In fact, under the Common Core, teachers have greater flexibility to design their classroom lessons—and can, for the first time, take advantage of the best practices from great teachers in other states.”

Moreover, Common Core State Standards are not the work of the federal government, or a central planning committee, as Gelernter suggests. The standards were developed by educators, experts and state leaders from 49 states and territories. In the nearly six years since most states adopted the Common Core, state and local officials have continued to refine and build on them to ensure they meet students’ needs—exactly as the standards were designed.

Since 2010, at least 18 states have taken steps to review, rebrand or revise their Common Core standards—exactly as the standards were designed. Last year, 17 states, including some of the most conservative-leaning in the country, voted down or failed to move forward legislation to replace the Common Core, and none passed full-scale repeal legislation.

In 2014 former Alabama Governor Bob Riley explained that Common Core Standards ensure local control of education—and if parents have questions about their children’s homework they can go directly to their schools:

“I have always believed that the government that governs closest governs best. Local control, local decisions are almost always the best. It turns out that is exactly what is happening in our schools… If an Alabama parent or group of parents has an issue with a specific book in their local school, they do not have to lobby Washington for change. …All they have to do is tell their concerns to the local school administration.”