The current proposals in both the House and Senate to reauthorize No Child Left Behind are working through Congress. Although the proposals eliminate and consolidate some programs, the proposals maintain elevated levels of spending overall. While they would, importantly, eliminate some mandates imposed by No Child Left Behind, they retain most others, and would extend the law through 2021.
One thing the proposals don’t do is repeal Common Core. Nor could they.
The reauthorization proposal under consideration in the House – the Student Success Act– includes a strong prohibition on the federal government being involved in curriculum. These prohibitions already exist in three federal laws, but the Student Success Act helps to reiterate such prohibitions, and strengthens existing language. It states, among other language, that:
…the Secretary shall not, either directly or indirectly, attempt to influence, incentivize, or coerce State—
“(1) adoption of the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, any other academic standards common to a significant number of States, or assessments tied to such standards; or
“(2) participation in any such partnerships.
Although the prohibition language is smart policy, ultimately, repealing Common Core is the job of individual states, which should work to fully exit the national standards and tests, and replace them with standards and assessments that work for their students, and that reflect state and local priorities.
Conservatives should not conflate good prohibitions against a federal standards and curriculum regime with a repeal of Common Core.
While the Obama administration heavily incentivized the adoption of Common Core through billions in federal grants and waivers from the onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind, the onus is ultimately on state leaders to withdraw from the national standards and tests.
Conservatives should not conflate good prohibitions against a federal standards and curriculum regime (which already exist, but are strengthened in the Student Success Act), with a repeal of Common Core. Nor should such prohibitions overshadow the shortcomings of the proposals overall, which, as we have detailed, represent a missed opportunity to significantly limit federal intervention in education and restore state and local control.