It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. As longtime conservative education reformer, and common core supporter, Chester Finn argues, a rigorous set of common standards backed by rigorous assessments might actually help innovative school districts fight off government micromanagement – while still helping parents fight for needed reform.
It’s an awfully big what if – the standards have to be good, the tests have to be good, the implementation has to come without 2,000 pages of Federal Register fine print. Hmm. Still, I think Finn’s argument is worth pondering, especially as state legislators around the country, including here in Utah, are pushing back against the common core.
Here’s what he has to say:
Here’s the core proposition: If all U.S. public schools embraced the same rigorous standards (for their curricular core), were assessed on the same tests, and had their results made public via a transparent system, then everybody would know how their own schools are doing and could decide for themselves whether to (a) leave things be, (b) demand a makeover, or (c) move their kids to other schools.
Communities would have grounds to rally in support of their schools, to fire the school board, to encourage charters and other innovators and entrepreneurs to arrive, etc. State-level voters would have grounds to fire the governor or legislature at the next election and to vote for higher or lower education taxes in the next referendum. Employers would know where to locate their education-intensive plants and offices and where to avoid. Philanthropists would know where to invest—or not. Reformers would know where to intervene with what. Above all, parents would know how content (or not) to be with the schools attended by their own kids.
Uncle Sam could then cease and desist from telling states and districts how to run their schools, how to “qualify” and evaluate their teachers, how and on what to spend their money, what to do about low-performing schools, to whom and how to provide choices among which sorts of schools and how many of them, etc.
Here’s a link to his article in the Education Gadfly: