WASHINGTON, D.C. – Millions and millions of words have been written and spoken in the ongoing debate over Common Core, the set of nationalized math and English learning standards that have been foisted upon schools in 45 states.
But conservative commentator George Will needed fewer than 250 of those words during a recent Fox News appearance to explain why Common Core is disastrous for Americans who value a public education system that’s rooted in local control.
Here’s a transcript of Will’s comments from his May 5 appearance on “Special Report with Brett Baier”:
“The advocates of the Common Core say, ‘If you like local control over your schools, you can keep it. Period. If you like your local curriculum, you can keep it. Period.’
“And people don’t believe them, for very good reasons.
“This is a thin end of an enormous wedge of federal power that will be wielded for the constant progressive purpose of concentrating power in Washington, so that it can impose continental solutions to problems nationwide.
“(Common Core supporters) say it’s voluntary. It has been driven by the (federal government’s) use of bribes and coercion – in the form of waivers from No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top money – to buy the compliance of these 45 states, two of which – Indiana, and I believe, Oklahoma – have already backed out, and they will not be the last.
“Watch the verb ‘align’ in this argument. (Common Core supporters) are going to align the SAT and the ACT tests with the curriculum. They’re going to align the textbooks with the tests. And sooner or later, you inevitably have a national curriculum that disregards the creativity of federalism.
“What are the chances … that we’re going to have five or six creative governors experimenting with different curricula, or one creative, constant, permanent Washington bureaucracy overlooking our education?
“We’ve had 50 years now of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – 50 years of federal involvement that has coincided with stagnation in test scores across the country.”
Will’s analysis is spot-on, with one exception: Oklahoma has not thrown Common Core overboard, nor is the Sooner State likely to do so. That’s because its governor, Mary Fallin, also serves as the chairwoman of the National Governors Association – one of the two private organizations that holds the copyright to the nationalized math and English learning standards.
(Nationalized science and social studies standards – which are not branded with the words “Common Core” but are still part of the grand K-12 experiment – have been created, but have not yet seeped into many states.)
Will’s opposition is important because Common Core supporters – such as Jeb Bush, Bill Gates, Arne Duncan and the think-tank set – routinely mock critics of the nationalized learning standards as misinformed rubes who don’t understand all the complexities and nuances surrounding this issue.
They can’t say that about Will, who is a Pulitzer-prize winning author and widely regarded as one of the nation’s smartest political observers.