Four weeks ago today the Colorado State Board of Education adopted Common Core academic standards in math and language arts by a 4-3 margin. Instead of putting the issue to rest, Colorado’s failure to secure an expected share of federal Race to the Top (RTTT) funds has resurrected the issue.
Why? Because some of the fuel behind getting the State Board to adopt the interstate educational compact was the value it would add to the state’s RTTT application — despite objections laid out by state senator Keith King (R-Colorado Springs) and others. Word on the street is that some local school officials have been raising the specter of repeal, feeding on the RTTT loss to add momentum to their cause.
In a new blog post, the State Board’s Marcia Neal (R-Grand Junction) reasserted her deep skepticism toward federal involvement in education and what she sees as a course of action leading Colorado down a path toward greater national dictates on our schools:
We’re told Washington doesn’t understand local control. Might I provide an example School districts and personnel, as well as the public, have been very involved in the development of Colorado standards, adopted by the SBE in May, 2010. Following adoption of the Common Core (by 4-3 vote), anxious to move forward, they asked us what they should do next. The answer…nothing, “wait until we find out.” Is that not indicative of the future?
One thing the R2T announcement made clear, Colorado is one of the leaders in educational reform. Others are woefully unprepared. Are we to wait for them or are they to make a gigantic leap forward? We already work and collaborate with other high achieving states like Massachusetts, Indiana and others.
Given the current state of events, two of the State Board members who voted to adopt Common Core — Republican Randy DeHoff and Democrat Elaine Gantz-Berman — penned the column “Standards a must for schools” for Sunday’s Denver Post, seeking to allay fears:
The only role the federal government has played in encouraging states to adopt the Common Core was to tie it to points earned in the Race to the Top grant application. Although Colorado is disappointed that we did not earn a Race to the Top grant, we firmly believe adopting the Common Core was the right step….
There is healthy skepticism that adopting the standards will lead to too much federal intrusion in our classrooms. But standards don’t tell us what to teach or how to teach it. Rather, they describe at what level students must grasp the depth and complexity of subjects at each grade level.
Those seriously interested in rolling back or repealing Colorado’s adoption of the Common Core standards would have to change the mind of one of the four original Yes votes to be successful. That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.
What about in 2011? At least two new members will join the Board: It looks like they will be Republicans Paul Lundeen and Deb Scheffel. Lundeen has sent an open letter to the State Board declaring his opposition to Common Core. Scheffel — who also has a Democratic opponent William Townend running in her overwhelmingly Republican district — most likely will fill Randy DeHoff’s seat. Where she stands on the issue might foretell the fate of the movement to see Colorado “unadopt” Common Core.