What’s Really Happening with West Virginia’s Standards and Local Control


The Tenth Amendment Center’s recent blog post looking at the legislative effort in West Virginia to “withdraw the state from Common Core standards” misleads its readers on multiple fronts. While the Tenth Amendment Center claims the move is “an important step toward nullifying the nationalized education program” in the state, they are merely perpetuating the myth that Common Core State Standards are a federal program or mandate. (To be clear – they are not).

As many objective sources and we have established before, the Common Core State Standards were not developed or implemented by the federal government. States have always been responsible for determining their own academic standards, as well as the best course of action for their students. There is no “federal program” to “withdraw” from.

It might also be helpful to remind the author that West Virginia has already amended their standards and is now using the College and Career-Readiness Standards. Like many other states, West Virginia chose in the past not to walk away from the principles of the Common Core State Standards, but rather customize and build upon them.

As to the writer’s argument that that “feds can once again use these national standards to meddle in state education at any time if they remain in place,” they may want to take a look at the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The passage of ESSA puts control back in the hands of state and local officials and specifically prohibits the federal government from meddling in states’ standards and accountability systems.

As former Congressman John Kline, a lead author of ESSA and chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce said in the past, “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.”

Which brings us to our last point. As West Virginia considers this legislation we recommend staying the course as the best plan forward. When state legislators in the past have looked closely at the high standards in place, they recognize the standards are working and in most cases few, if only minor, changes are made.

The attacks on high standards and high-quality assessments may continue, but history has shown states are moving on. They know they are on the right course, and turning back would be a mistake.