Conspiracy theories about Common Core should be ignored

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: April 1, 2013

Those abuses, which Common Core critics tacitly endorse, fuel calls for a federal takeover. By contrast, the Common Core initiative could ensure that states maintain control over their education systems while providing clear reporting of results in a nationally uniform fashion that incentivizes improvement.

Chester E. Finn, Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, calls Common Core “the best path toward getting Uncle Sam and heavy-handed state governments to back off from micro-managing how schools are run” and return authority to the local level. Finn argues that rigorous standards and transparent national reporting will empower local citizens to make needed changes. That, in turn, negates any federal argument for usurping state authority.

Ongoing development of Common Core assessments in the states will be crucial for the initiative's success. They should be closely monitored, which doesn't justify junking the whole thing. Serious standards won't cost Oklahoma control of its schools — even if those standards are also separately adopted by other states.

When Common Core legislation passed in 2010, state Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne, supported it. Now he calls the standards a “program for which we know little about.” So Blackwell apparently supports major bills without understanding them, but doesn't think that this disqualifies him from helping set academic standards for Oklahoma students. And he's clearly not overly concerned about the standards' validity or national transparency.

This isn't an argument for repealing Common Core standards. It's an argument for replacing certain legislators.

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