Congressman Seeks To Pull Funding From Common Core
By Pete Aleshire,
Rep. Paul Gosar, who represents Rim Country, last week joined with 33 other congressmen seeking the elimination of federal funding for national academic standards and testing, commonly referred to as “Common Core.”
Gosar and others wrote a letter to a key committee head seeking a budget rider to strip funding from several of the Obama administration’s education initiatives. The effort to establish national standards grew out of then-President George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind,” which the Obama administration expanded into its $4.3 billion “Race to the Top.” As part of that initiative, the administration embraced a national set of standards adopted by the U.S. Council of Governors, providing financial incentives for states that adopted the standards.
The administration’s “Race to the Top” initiative would lose all funding in the Republicans’ $1 trillion budget resolution. That would include most of the money the federal government has provided to states as an incentive to align their curriculum with those standards.
The budget proposal also strips out money for Common Core academic standards, intended to build critical thinking skills and allow parents to see how their children are doing compared to other children nationwide. Critics say the standards represent a federal takeover of schools. Some states that have adopted the standards have seen test scores plummet.
Rep. Paul Gosar
The Arizona Legislature is considering several bills that would effectively revoke the state’s earlier embrace of these national standards, set to go into effect this year. School districts statewide, including Payson schools, have already stopped administering the AIMS test and shifted to the AzMerit test, based on the national standards.
Critics of the move to pull Arizona out of the national standards would cost hundreds of millions in federal grants. However, Gosar’s rider and the Republican budget plan would ensure even the states that didn’t pull out would still not get the promised grants.
Gosar said the federal government should leave education to the states. The federal budget for the Department of Education is about $67 billion, up from $29 billion in 2000, before the launch of “No Child Left Behind.” Spending has remained relatively steady in the Obama years, except for a spike in 2009 as part of the economic recovery package, according to information compiled by the New America Foundation (febp.newamerica.net/background-analysis/education-federal-budget)
“Over the last couple years, the Obama administration has lured more than 40 states into adopting Common Core standards in order to receive significant grants and federal funds. Most states now have buyer’s remorse as this extortion has been nothing short of a disaster. Unfortunately, as the federal government’s role in education has increased, test scores and performance have not improved. Common Core has led to boredom and complacency in classrooms throughout the country, shackling students and teachers as most days are now spent teaching to standardized tests,” wrote Gosar in the letter.
“Standards for education should be established by local communities, parents and teachers, not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. threatening to withhold funding. As a father of three, I know that a good education is critical to the future prosperity of our nation’s youth. That is why I am committed to reforming our broken education system and ending Common Core once and for all. I urge the Appropriations Committee to adopt this commonsense rider that is consistent with federal law.”
One study by the Brookings Institute documented small gains in student test scores nationally, but couldn’t determine whether those gains were concentrated in states that had moved to adopt the Common Core standards.
A second study by the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research came to a similar conclusion.
Most experts say it’s too soon to tell whether the new, generally more rigorous Common Core standards will help. Some states like Arizona have just started to implement them. Others have struggled to train teachers and realign their curriculums with the test, resulting in big initial drops in student scores.
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