Thursday, May 9, 2013

NO! Common Core In Texas

The Common Core State Standard Initiative, called CCSSI or "common core", is a subject of national debate.

The state of Texas has not yet adopted Common Core. Based on a bill that passed the State House on May 7th, it seems unlikely Texas will adopt the initiative any time soon.

HB 462 was written to clarify how teachers are assessed or appraised. It also addresses how standards for curricula will be developed and how metrics are determined to grade student progress.

One point is clear in the bill:  common core is not to be used.

       (b-1)  In this section, "common core state standards" means the national curriculum standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. 
       (b-2)  The State Board of Education may not adopt common core state standards to comply with a duty imposed under this chapter.
       (b-3)  A school district may not use common core state standards to comply with the requirement to provide instruction in the essential knowledge and skills at appropriate grade levels under Subsection (c). 
       (b-4)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, a school district or open-enrollment charter school may not be required to offer any aspect of a common core state standards curriculum.

"Optional" national or federally directed standards are also blocked:

The commissioner may not adopt or develop a recommended appraisal process and criteria based on any appraisal criteria that incorporate the results of student performance on assessment instruments that are intended for national applicability or are enacted federally as optional criteria

The engrossed text of the bill, which has been passed to the Texas Senate, is available here.

The Case Against Common Core

The concept behind the initiative is to nationalize school curricula through a "bottom-up" approach. The more states that join the initiative, the better the chances of federalization.

National scholastic standards bring several key issues. Perhaps the greatest issue is one regarding social demographics. Subjects important to one demographic in Montana may not have any value to people living in Texas. A federalized curriculum removes those demographic considerations.

Another key issue with national standards is that implementation will remove parent and student choice. It will take responsibility out of the local community and give that authority to the federal government, despite the violation of the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Local school boards will see their authority stripped. Parents and students will no longer have a direct line to those hired to govern education. The public education system will be in the hands of what many see as an already bloated and ineffective federal bureaucracy.

States that already have better performance ratings fear nationalized standards will impede their successes. They fear that the standards will lean more towards the "lowest common denominator". Thus they will fail to adequately challenge the students' performance. In addition, many fear, that once standards are nationalized, standards will be lowered if the majority of states complain the established standards are too tough.

The International Baccalaureate

Though the bill appears to block common core, it allows for the so-named "International Baccalaureate" programs.

IB programs are similar to common core. However, they are based upon an international common standard. It attempts to establish a global standard at a level above the US federal level.

The name is deceptive. It is made to appear to be a collegiate level option. However, the IB program begins in primary school and extends through college

In Texas, there are currently 50 schools participating in the IB program, with at least 35 more looking to join.

HB 462 allows College Advanced Placement (AP) and IB curricula and standards to be used to assess teachers and students.

 This subsection does not prohibit the use of college advanced placement tests or international baccalaureate examinations as those terms are defined by Section 28.051


Other Standardized Curricula

While the bill blocks use of Common Core, it does not address CSCOPE.

CSCOPE is another scholastic tool currently under political scrutiny. The controversial curricula of CSCOPE apply standards similar to those found in Common Core, as a form of backdoor application of CCSSI.

Furthermore, CSCOPE has come under fire due to several events throughout the state. Among those was the alleged persecution of a student in McAllen, Texas who refused to pledge allegiance to Mexico. In another, students were forced to dress in the full abayiah and hajab  worn by many Muslim women, particularly in more repressed societies. A third "alarm" was raised when some students returned home with mathematics worksheets that seemed to profess socialism and the redistribution of wealth.

For more information on CSCOPE, please refer to Lou Ann Anderson's numerous articles.