Thursday, April 10, 2014

Common Core Disregards the Lessons of American History.



As a historian, I am acutely aware that debate over the powers of the federal government have been a continuing theme in American History. The US Constitution tried to create a balance between local and federal power and because of this, major interventions of the federal government into sphere of public policy- whether you agree with them or not- usually came as a result of grass roots movements demanding this change.

A great example of this is prohibition, which was implemented only after 40 plus years of agitation and organizing by temperance groups throughout the country. But the same was also true of Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and Minimum wage legislation, which had been fought for by labor organizations for more than 30 years till they were finally implemented during the great Depression, and for Civil Rights Legislation, which was the culmination of 10 plus years of non violent protest beginning with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and more than 40 years of lobbying and litigation by groups like the NAACP.

Ever Obamacare, whether you like it or not, was a response to more than 60 years of lobbying and agitation for federal legislation to provide health coverage to the uninsured, first resulting in Medicare and Medicaid during the Johnson administration, and now in Obamacare in this administration.

But Common Core is different. Here is a federal education policy, a blueprint for National Standards ( which is really a National Curriculum) that no grass roots movements, to my knowledge, have ever called for. This is an entirely top down initiative pushed through by business leaders, foundations, and elites in education policy organizations without any social movements linked to it whatsoever.

And this is one reason it is likely to self-destruct. All expansions of federal power are controversial. Many breed strong opposition. But when you engineer an expansion of federal power without ANY significant popular support for it, you are not only treading on dangerous ground, you are moving into uncharted territory.

And don't be surprised if the initiative blows up in your face, as Common Core is now.

3 comments:

Paul Vasquez said...

"But Common Core is different. Here is a federal education policy, a blueprint for National Standards ( which is really a National Curriculum) that no grass roots movements, to my knowledge, have ever called for"

People have not been complaining that the quality of our schools has been declining for years?

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