Niagara Gazette

Bob Confer

December 10, 2013

CONFER: Who is behind the Common Core standards?

Editor’s note: This is the third in an eight-part series about Common Core.

While the National Governors Association was instrumental in promoting and distributing the Common Core standards, it was an organization that calls itself Achieve, Inc. that created the standards themselves.

In 2006, Education Week ranked Achieve as one of the most influential education policy organizations in the nation. Achieve, founded in 1996, touts itself as, “… an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization dedicated to working with states to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability.” It hangs its hat on being “…the only education reform organization led by a board of directors of governors and business leaders.”

You will notice that despite identifying itself or being recognized as one of the leaders in American education, Achieve’s board of directors is missing the most important part of the equation – the educators. Instead, the emphasis of power in deciding who should learn what is placed on people who don’t administer education or fail to be directly involved with it — and shouldn’t be.

Yes, governors may budget for state spending on schools, but in the day-to-day operations of a state government their personal involvement in primary and secondary education is minimal. They aren’t trained in education (when is the last time you saw a governor with a teaching degree?) and they leave such matters to their staff – who ultimately assume control through top-down methods proven to broken (i.e. Regents).

While it sounds good that business leaders are involved in the process (they are, after all, consumers of the final product of public education through employment), and it’s something that this columnist has advocated, it is best left at the local level where consortiums of business leaders, teachers, and superintendents can more effectively work together to address the needs of the workforce and students in that specific region. As you get higher up in the food chain and further away from local efforts and local control, corruption – both illegal and in its legalized form of corporatism – run rampant (that is something we will discuss in Part 8 of this series when we look at the private entities benefitting from the institution of Common Core).

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Bob Confer
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