What happens when the federal government extends its overreach into America’s classrooms? Should all states be forced to teach kids the same thing?

Heritage’s Lindsey Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education, debated the repercussions of the Obama Administration’s push for national education standards on “Stossel” Thursday night.

Kathleen Porter-Magee of the Fordham Institute, which has been a major proponent of Common Core standards, argued that states were accepting the new standards “voluntarily.”

In response, Burke explained how the Obama Administration used federal dollars to convince “cash-strapped” states to agree to national education standards.

“You were prioritized in winning a grant if you agreed to adopt Common Core,” Burke said. “And now we have waivers from No Child Left Behind which were conditioned in large part upon adoption of Common Core standards.”

Common Core is not only a massive federal overreach into the nation’s classrooms, but there are various other reasons states should be concerned about these federally backed standards. 

“It’s hard for me to come up with one example of when centralization has ever worked and this is centralization on a grand scale,” Burke said. “We have seen 50 years of federal intervention in education utterly fail to improve educational outcomes. I have no reason to believe that further centralizing it will improve outcomes.”

Federally funded national assessments have been crafted to align with Common Core national standards for English and math.

Suggested reading on the Common Core recommended reading list includes Environmental Protection Agency manuals and presidential documents like an executive order on “Strengthening Federal Environmental Energy Transportation Management.” Materials, Burke argues, “only a bureaucrat could love.”

A significant cost to taxpayers, Common Core standards are unlikely to promote higher educational quality and will likely impede achievement. Simply put, Common Core curriculum is “a power grab by the feds.” We need education reform that puts control into the hands of local school leaders and parents—not Washington bureaucrats or national organizations.