States Are Leading Implementation of Common Core State Standards Free from Federal Pressure


In a letter to the Naples Daily News, local resident David Bolduc claims “states sold their educational souls to the Obama administration for 30 pieces of silver in 2010 to adopt Common Core.”

The letter goes on to argue Collier School District Superintendent Kamela Patton’s support for the standards opened the door to “never-ending data mining of teachers and students.”

Like Bolduc, opponents have frequently claimed the Common Core was forced on states. That’s not true. The standards were developed by educators and experts from 49 states and territories, and states later voluntarily adopted the standards.

The Obama administration overstepped by implicitly tying the Common Core to the Race to the Top Program. But adoption of college- and career-ready education standards accounted for less than 10 percent of states’ applications for Race to the Top funds. Nearly half of states adopted and continue to implement the Common Core despite never receiving Race to the Top funds, and several states that dropped out of the testing consortia still receive federal funding.

As former Education Secretary Bill Bennett explains, the Common Core remains a state-led initiative based on conservative principles.

The Every Student Succeeds Act ensures goes further to ensure state and local leaders have full control over their education standards. The law specifically prohibits federal authorities from incentivizing or coercing states to use a particular set of learning goals—whether the Common Core or otherwise.

Congressman John Kline, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, called ESSA a “huge win for conservatives.” “The federal government should not be able to tell states what standards they can or cannot adopt. If states want to use Common Core, it is not the place of the federal government to tell them they cannot do that,” Rep. Kline said last fall.

Moreover, Bolduc’s suggestion that the Common Core requires states to mass student data collection is wrong. What student information is collected and how it’s used is entirely up to state and local officials. The Common Core says nothing about student data policies, and if a state were to repeal the standards it would have no bearing on those practices.

“I encourage parents to read [the Common Core State Standards]. They will find no mention of data-collection mandates,” Rob McKenna, former attorney general for Washington State, wrote last year.  “That’s because, in reality, Common Core has no impact on how states and schools collect and use student data…What’s more four federal laws prohibit the creation of a federal database with students’ personally identifiable information.”