Texas and Alaska Race to the Bottom: Reject Education Standards
March 10, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-The States of Texas and Alaska, instead of competing in the race to the top, prefer to enter into a race to the bottom. A panel composed of education experts and state governors released a set of new nationwide educational “common core state standards” today, for grades K-12. The new education standards drafted by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, cover math, history and language and is part of President Obama’s initiative to improve our nation’s public education system, which lags behind other industrialized countries. Forty-eight states, two territories and the District of Columbia participated in developing the new standards, but Alaska and Texas refused to participate. Both Alaska and Texas also declined to apply for a one-time potential $700 million education grant to improve their schools, as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program, because the two states don’t want a Socialized “government takeover” of their underperforming school systems. Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who has flirted with the idea of succeeding from the U.S. and is a staunch proponent of state’s rights, declared that only Texans can decide how their children are educated. That’s fine, but in a state where a majority of the population don’t believe in the theory of evolution and a third believe that humans and dinosaurs roamed the Earth at the same time, the “Texas way” seems like a dismal failure.
The drafting of nationwide education standards has long been endorsed by President Obama and education experts, as a vital component in improving our schools. School curriculum standards vary widely from state to state, with many students receiving a sub par education, by virtue of geography:
“Let’s challenge our states to adopt world-class standards that will bring our curriculums to the 21st century,” Obama said in a speech last year. “Today’s system of 50 different sets of benchmarks for academic success means 4th grade readers in Mississippi are scoring nearly 70 points lower than students in Wyoming — and they’re getting the same grade. …That’s why I’m calling on states that are setting their standards far below where they ought to be to stop low-balling expectations for our kids. The solution to low test scores is not lowering standards — it’s tougher, clearer standards.”
States adopting the new standards in their schools will receive extra points in their Race to the Top application and states rejecting the standards will be docked points. Many if not all, of the states participating in the drafting of the new curriculum guidelines are expected to adopt the new standards.
Chris Minnich, director of standards for the Council of Chief State School Officers noted that the states and not the federal government, are leading the charge in developing national education standards. And the participants took the time to review and define the necessary “knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers.”
Gov. Rick Perry has angered many education officials in his state, by refusing to apply for a Race to the Top grant and not participating in developing the “common core state standards.” Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman, called Perry’s decision “shocking.” But Perry has held firm, saying “Our states and our communities must reserve the right to decide how we educate our children and not surrender that control to a federal bureaucracy.” And he is supported by Texans, like Education Commissioner Robert Scott, who referred to national education standards, as “a step toward a federal takeover of the nation’s public schools.”
Combined with the Texas State Board of Education’s campaign to rewrite the state’s textbooks to reflect conservative Biblical principles and to include the study of figures such as Newt Gingrich and Phyllis Schlafly,Texas is quickly moving towards a state of idiocracy: “uninformed, misinformed and blissfully ignorant.”
The new “common core state standards” are available online for the public and education experts to review and submit public comments.