Centralized control of education, not Common Core, is the problem

Efforts to impose the Common Core curriculum nationwide have stirred up outrage among parents and community leaders. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, December 6, 2013 – Efforts to impose the Common Core curriculum nationwide have stirred up outrage among parents and community leaders. Some of this is motivated by objections to program contents, however, there is also dissatisfaction with the idea of a ‘top-down’ imposition of standardized education policy without community input.

Common Core itself is not really the problem. Opponents are really objecting to the high-handed centralized control of education. Parents who are concerned about the future of their children want education policy decisions to be made locally allowing parental input into school curriculums.

SEE RELATED: Common Core: the truth about the development, standards and curriculum

Programs like Common Core would be much less of a concern if they were implemented on a school-by-school or district-by-district basis in competition with other curriculum plans; Common Core should be offered as a school choice option.

Efforts to universally ban Common Core are just as bad as imposing any standardized curriculum on everyone nationwide. Curriculum decisions should be made locally with community input.

Individuals should have the opportunity to “vote with their feet” by moving to another school if they don’t like the curriculum a school may choose.

Competition through choice will produce a diversity of better curriculum options and if a program like Common Core is as great as its supporters believe, it ought to be able to win support in a marketplace in open competition with alternative programs.

SEE RELATED: ‘Common Core’ curriculums turn classrooms into cultural battlefields

The kind of content that many find objectionable in Common Core would not survive if it had to compete in an open market with alternative programs. Because it is the product of central planning, Common Core is vulnerable to manipulation by those with access and an agenda.

Solving this problem will require a concerted nationwide effort on education policy reform that goes beyond just attacking Common Core. There are four main steps to solving the education crisis:

  • Eliminate any federal role in funding education or mandating education policy. If this is not done at the federal level, states should opt out of the federal education system.
  • End central control at the state level by eliminating state boards of education and similar agencies that engage in redistribution of funds and imposition of educational policy. Local schools should be funded locally.
  • Break the teachers unions and guarantee right to work protections for teachers. If necessary, unions should be prosecuted under laws against racketeering.
  • Education funding should be linked to the student and be portable to any school, public or private willing to accept the student based on the amount of local tax money allocated for his or her education.

The solution to this problem cannot be accomplished without educating lawmakers through a concerted nationwide grassroots initiative.

SEE RELATED: The facts about Common Core State Standards

Rather than pushing to ban Common Core, parents should organize to pressure elected officials to sign a better education pledge to do whatever they can to implement these measures against central planning in education.

Central planning does not work any better in education than it does in budgetary policy. One size fits all usually means that everyone is equally ill served. 

Such a pledge, combined with relentless follow-up and pressure to legislate change at the state and national level will produce results.

We need a true movement for comprehensive education reform or the education bureaucrats and central planners will just keep producing programs like Common Core because they think that’s their job.

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Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle has been writing political analysis since the 1980s for newspapers, magazines and now online journals. He is currently Execitive Director of the Center for Foreign Policy Priorities, is on the board of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, and served four years as National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus.

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