Only encouraging mediocrity

What’s wrong with Common Core, the national standards that are being pushed into public education? The point of having standards is to standardize the states, and by definition that makes them “national standards.” Further research will show that they are not bubbling up from the states, but are being pressed down from the top.

Having national education standards violates the Tenth Amendment. The Constitution forbids the federal government from taking powers not explicitly provided by the Constitution. This has been an active violation for decades. Another problem is the philosophical grounds and the practical results related to educational standards.

What are standards? Standards provide a basis for comparison, a reference point for evaluation. However, in practice standards provide the measure of what is minimally acceptable. How so? Standards always point to the lowest common denominator, and set the least acceptable measure. So, what’s wrong with that?

The need for standards arose in the production and manufacturing industries in order to insure minimum measures for acceptable quality and safety concerns. However, what happens in practice is that industry uses the standards to produce consistent products of standard quality, the minimum standard. Standards direct production into consistent standards compliance. Seldom are the standards challenged or exceeded because the manufacturing companies are in business to make money, which means producing the best standardized products at the lowest prices. Everyone in product development uses the standards as they design products, which means that production is directed at the low end of acceptable quality. This is what standards are by definition, and what they do in practice.

The problem arises when the tools of manufacturing are applied to the education of children. Children ought not to be manufactured. The tools and measures of manufacturing are not appropriate for education. What’s the problem with setting the lowest acceptable measure in education and teaching? Where do I begin?

Educational standards have been imposed upon our schools for decades and they have been fantastically successful. Our schools are not failing. They do what the standards direct them to do. Standards set the educational mark for American public education at the lowest acceptable levels, and more children are matching the standards.

The problem is standards do not motivate or inspire, and education is all about motivation and inspiration. Standards don’t feed the soul, stir the imagination or encourage excellence. They encourage mediocrity, at best.

Phillip Ross