Will Creating a State ESSA Plan Mean Texas Has To Adopt “National Curriculum Standards”?

In a new piece written in Texas Insider, Carole Haynes is sounding the alarm bells that education reform in Texas is being driven by a federal mandate. If passed, she argues the Lone Star State could be headed for “dumbed down national curriculum standards, national curriculum, and [a] national test.”

The education reforms she worries about are part of the state’s efforts to develop their ESSA plan. And as Haynes writes, “If ESSA is implemented in Texas, then Common Core — or a reasonable imitation under a different name — will be implemented in Texas.”

Here. We. Go. (again)!

Haynes seems to be pushing the old myth that Common Core State Standards were a federally-mandated program and ESSA is just another tool to push them. To be clear, Common Core State Standards were developed by educators and experts from 49 states and territories, and states later voluntarily adopted the standards.

As most know by now, ESSA gives states and local authorities more control and flexibility than ever before. Congressman John Kline, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and who helped write the ESSA legislation, said the law was a “huge success for conservatives” in that regard.

Kline also offered that, “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.”

With that increased control comes greater responsibility for policymakers to keep the bar high for students. Overwhelmingly, states that set high expectations for students and matched those goals with assessments aligned to high academic standards have seen improvements in student performance.

Moreover, Texas has already proven that it will follow its own path when it comes to establishing its standards and assessments. Texas never adopted the Common Core, and state law actually prohibits the state’s public schools from using the comparable standards.

ESSA, which permanently replaces No Child Left Behind, fully ensures state and district leaders have full control over their standards, assessments and accountability plans – even in Texas! If Texas is truly moving more towards the high, comparable standards other states are using – it’s because they see how they are working.  It’s not because of some federal ploy like Dr. Haynes might have you believe.