Virginia GOP Governor Bobby Jindal is suing the Obama administration over the recently-rolled-out Common Core standards for math and reading. Jindal says Washington is illegally manipulating grant money and regulations to the tune of $4.3 billion to force states to accept the supposedly voluntary curriculum.
First conceived in 2009, Common Core hopes to help students become more college and career-ready through a focus on critical thinking and specific math and reading skills to be attained by specific grade levels. How those skills are taught is left up to each state. Legislators hope Common Core will allow for shared resources between states and easier transitions for children who move from school to school, such as military kids.
However, the question of who controls the actual curriculum has politicians, parents, and educators up in arms. In Ohio, Representative Andy Thompson commented that it was “creepy the way this whole thing landed in Ohio with all the things prepackaged.” And Jindal, in a statement about his lawsuit, called Common Core “the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything.”
Even teachers’ unions, formerly endorsers of Common Core, have expressed concerns about its enactment, particularly as Common Core-based assessments are likely to be used as part of a new teacher evaluation system.
Others, however, are saying the backlash is more political than educational. “This certainly looks like a frivolous lawsuit that’s geared more toward publicity than substance,” said Barry Erwin, president of the Council for A Better Louisiana.
And Jonathan Supovitz, co-director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, suggested it’s too early to count Common Core out just yet. “This is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take lots of resources and lots of teacher exposure to new ways of doing things, and we’re just at the beginning of that process,” Supovitz said.
Supporters like former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue have also suggested that politics and mistruths, running rampant as the 2016 Presidential elections draw closer, may be clouding the issue.
At present, forty states have adopted the Common Core standards for this coming school year. Students’ performance will be carefully monitored and glitches dealt with as they occur.