Anew study reaffirms what conservatives have been saying about the Common Core State Standards all along: They’re a giant waste of taxpayers’ money.
The study, titled “Smart Money? Philanthropic and Federal Funding for the Common Core,” was released in September by the Education Policy Analysis Archives. It concludes, “In essence, those who set directions for the Common Core and those who provided resources for its implementation have benefited, even as potential benefits to schools, educators, and students are elusive, and the entire claim may ultimately be empty.”
None of this is news to anyone who has paid attention to the tremendous costs of Common Core or the devastating consequences it’s had on U.S. education. It would be fun to say, “We told you so,” but we can’t get our money back or our children’s lost educational opportunities — at least, not in time to regain what was wasted in the years they sat in classrooms in which they were taught confusing math problems and downright dangerous literature.
Common Core is a set of national standards dictating what students should know at the end of each grade level. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia adopted the standards soon after they launched in 2010. A handful of states have since repealed the standards and even more have rebranded their state standards in an attempt to rid themselves of any association with the now-notorious Common Core. State membership in the consortia to create Common Core-aligned tests has dropped by 62 percent since 2011.
States’ decision to abandon the failing standards wasn’t driven by politics or partisanship. The tests have proven to be a total failure. The highly respected American College Testing, commonly called ACT, recently published findings that show Common Core fails to prepare students for career or college, the very thing they were designed to do.
The standards have not only failed to produce the results their proponents promised, they are also incredibly expensive; buying new textbooks, upgrading technology systems, retraining teachers, and the various other required tasks imposed by Common Core aren’t cheap. The Federalist’s Joy Pullmann reported earlier in 2016 Common Core has cost the nation nearly $80 billion. That’s not to mention what adopting the standards has cost individual states. Ms. Pullmann reports, “Common Core’s rollout costs were projected at $17 billion. California’s actual spending suggests taxpayers will pay more than four times that.”
The researchers of the Smart Money study also show how many are profiting off of Common Core, except for our kids, of course. “The claim stakers are the federal government and philanthropies that have staked out the Common Core for public policy,” wrote the researchers. “To work that stake, they incentivize states and school districts to mine the Common Core and get higher measured achievement. To do so, the miners need equipment. The vendors who sell the equipment profit in the short term, even if their tools rarely enable the miners to get the sought-after results.”
States have doled out billions of dollars to pay for education standards parents, teachers and students hate. The Washington Examiner reports, “Public backing for the standards slid from 81 percent to 50 percent between 2013 and 2016.”
Even Diane Ravitch, the queen of the anti-education-choice campaign, admits Common Core has “cost billions and hurt children.”
It’s not as if we didn’t see this coming. The Pioneer Institute and the American Principles Project wrote way back in 2012, “Implementation of the Common Core standards is likely to represent substantial additional expense for most states. While a handful of states have begun to analyze these costs, most states have signed on to the initiative without a thorough, public vetting of the costs and benefits.”
We’ve known for years that Common Core hasn’t been working. We’ve seen the ballooning costs of imposing “social justice pedagogy,” as Duke Pesta calls it, on young innocents. The system is clearly broken, but will anything change? Do social programs’ price tags, even failing ones, cease to mean anything when they reach the billion-dollar mark?
Common Core is firmly entrenched in U.S. education. Getting rid of it is not going to be easy, but every two years Americans are presented with the opportunity to elect new officials who can stop Common Core and enact well-researched, substantive, pro-liberty reforms in its place. This election is no different. If parents want what’s best for their kids, they need to find and support candidates who will work to end the Common Core disaster.
• Teresa Mull is a research fellow in education policy at the Heartland Institute.
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