Common Core hearings scheduled, a chance to undo bad policy

Wayne Hoffman Articles, Education Leave a Comment

Some long-overdue public hearings and discussions regarding Idaho’s education standards are coming your way. Hundreds of Idahoans asked the State Board of Education to open a discussion on Idaho’s decision, nine years ago, to adopt Common Core. (Though revised a bit in 2017, much of the troublesome standards remains). As a result, the petitioners got their wish. 

The State Board of Education has scheduled public hearings on Common Core to start this month. The board is reviewing the rules that govern what constitutes a thorough public education, and these hearings are part of that process. 

There are many reasons to oppose Common Core, which, we hope, will be exposed to sunlight during the hearings. Most of the reasons fall into one of several buckets:

  • Common Core was billed as a state-led effort, but in reality, it’s a not-too-subtle attempt to have the federal government intervene in state education programs, diminishing the role of school boards, parents, and communities in establishing standards for schools.
  • Common Core is inflexible—indeed, it’s copyrighted—handcuffing states by requiring them to adopt it verbatim; the standards can be added onto by no more than 15%.
  • The standards have done nothing to produce better education results, and researchers looking at national data are starting to suspect that schoolchildren might have been better off if the standards were never adopted. 
  • Common Core diminishes the value and input of individual teachers in their work with individual students. Teachers are told to teach and students are told to learn in a particular way as determined from on high. This has been a particular, ongoing complaint regarding math instruction.

For what it’s worth, the Idaho Freedom Foundation and our allies have called on the State Board of Education to add two more hearings to its schedule. But the agency, so far, has settled on just four. Here’s hoping the SBOE will reconsider that decision, as the current schedule is incredibly burdensome for rural Idahoans, requiring hours of driving for people living in places like Grangeville, Stanley, and Bonners Ferry. 

The hearings start at 6 p.m. local time on each of the dates below:

  • August 19 in Nampa, at the College of Western Idaho, Academic Building, Room 102 E.
  • August 21 in Twin Falls, at the College of Southern Idaho, Hepworth Building, Room 108.
  • August 22 in Coeur d’Alene, at North Idaho College’s Student Union Building, Lake Coeur d’Alene Conference Room.
  • August 27 in Idaho Falls, at the College of Eastern Idaho Building 6 (Health Education Building), Room 150/152.

State officials need to hear from parents, teachers, students, school board members, and any other concerned Idaho residents. Hopefully, the State Board of Education will be encouraged to follow the lead of other states, including most recently Georgia and Florida, in ditching the standards. If not, it will be up to the Legislature to toss the standards in 2020. It will be able to that as part of a larger task next winter to reexamine the state’s regulatory code, of which Common Core is a component.