The Conservative Case

The Conservative Case for Higher Standards:

The education reform movement in the U.S. was largely driven by bold conservative leaders who were tired of lagging student achievement and willing to stand up to education bureaucracies and the powerful teachers unions. They sought to put the interests of kids ahead of adults in the system.

The proven recipe for effective education reform reflects enduring conservative principles that can drive improvement in any organization – whether in government or the private sector, including more choices, higher standards, strong accountability, data-driven decisions, and rewards for success and consequences for failure.

Higher standards alone are not the sole solution to solving America’s education crisis, but they are the very least we must do to raise the bar for students in the pursuit of transforming schools in states across the nation.

Here are some of the top reasons many conservatives support the Common Core State Standards:

Created by the States for the States:

  • Common Core State Standards are not a national curriculum or a national mandate. The development of these standards involved governors and education commissioners from 48 states and were designed by a diverse group of teachers, experts, parents and school administrators.
  • States voluntarily choose whether or not to adopt the standards and – unlike Medicaid – retain full authority for implementation, preventing the possibility of a federal takeover. State leaders, accountable to their constituents, can withdraw their states from the standards at any time.

Preserve Freedom for Local Governments, School Districts, Teachers and Parents:

  • Common Core State Standards define what students need to know; they do not dictate how teachers should teach or how students should learn. That decision is left to each state.
  • Common Core does not dictate what texts teachers will use for curriculum. Local teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards will continue to make important decisions about curriculum and how their school systems are operated.
  • Contrary to purported myths about Common Core, these standards encompass only English Language Arts and Mathematics, focusing on improving needed critical thinking and analytic skills.  The standards do not cover other subjects, including Science, Social Studies, Civics and Sociology. State and local officials will continue to make important curriculum decisions when it comes to teaching History or specific issues such as Evolution and Intelligent Design, in line with what is right for their students and communities.

Secure America’s Economic Future:

  • The future of America will be determined by the strength of our economy, an economy where success will be predicated on a highly educated workforce prepared to create and foster the industries and technologies of tomorrow. Without a higher quality school system that provides a rigorous education for students, our nation’s status as a global leader and beacon of prosperity will be increasingly in jeopardy.
  • Common Core State Standards will ensure our nation’s academic requirements are aligned to the expectations of higher education institutions and the needs of employers competing in the global economy, laying the foundation for securing our economic future.

Pave the Way for Less Federal Regulation and Intervention:

  • Common Core paves the way for less regulation of schools – not more. Common Core will provide more transparency on the quality of our schools and arm local and state leaders with the information needed to make decisions for their classrooms and students.
  • Since there are currently no common standards or accountability assessments across states, it is difficult for policymakers to identify best practices.  This unfortunately drives Washington bureaucrats to develop program after program teamed with new funding streams, rules and regulations because no one is sure what policies are actually working.
  • Given the transparent, school-level performance data that allows for true comparisons across state lines, the burden will be on federal bureaucrats and overzealous Members of Congress to prove why: a parent is not qualified to decide where to send their child; a principal is not qualified to make decisions about human capital; a superintendent must spend his or her days talking to lawyers and accountants rather than parents and principals.
  • Common Core sets voluntary, streamlined frameworks for English Language Arts and Math academic standards, not endless and confusing bureaucratic regulations and mandates. Common Core standards for Mathematics are fully detailed in an easily digestible 90 pages, while English Language Arts standards are explained in just 66 pages. Compare that to the 2,700 pages – reaching more than seven feet, three inches in the air when stacked together – comprising the original Obamacare legislation.

Save Taxpayer Dollars:

  • Because every state’s standards are currently different, the test and textbook publishers have the upper hand and currently drive the market when it comes to pricing and available products. Common Core will put the customers – states and districts – back in charge and allow them access to better products, more vendors and a more diverse marketplace, ultimately holding the potential to drive down costs for taxpayers.
  • An individual’s level of education is a leading indicator of his or her future level of dependence on taxpayer-funded government aid and even the likeliness of ending up in costly incarceration. Improving the quality of education delivered in American classrooms through Common Core’s higher standards holds the potential to lessen the next generation’s reliance on our ever-expanding entitlement and corrections programs.

Fuel a Higher Quality Education System Through Rigor and Innovation:

  • While some states have high standards in place, many do not. Common Core State Standards raise the bar across the board, resulting in a more rigorous education for students, a higher return on taxpayers’ investment and, ultimately, a more qualified workforce for America’s employers.
  • A common set of voluntary, high standards for states allows for innovation to occur: new digital content and lesson plans can be shared between teachers, schools or states in our highly mobile, interconnected society.
  • In the same way that smart phones have created a baseline for technology applications that can improve lives, common standards can likewise open the door to innovation by breaking down barriers and leveling the playing field for small business entrepreneurs.