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There seems to be a recurring theme of liberal, New England states regretting the big government programs they implement. First, Vermont was forced to abandon its plans for a single-payer health care system upon finding that there was no way to pay for it. Now, Massachusetts is dropping out of the Common Core education standards that don’t work and that nobody likes.
While it’s surprising that a state like Massachusetts would see the light more quickly than many others, it’s not surprising that the standards have been a failure. A top down approach to education, from bureaucrats in Washington straight to your children’s ears, was always destined to be a disaster, due to a complete misunderstanding of how children learn.
The response to the imposition of these standards has been negative almost across the board. Students have opted out of the required tests in droves. The number of homeschoolers leaving the school system entirely is at a record high. Even the new education authorization bill working its way through Congress has included anti-Common Core language as a response to massive anger against the standards.
This anger has not just come from students and parents. Fewer than half of teachers approve of the standards, and several prominent teachers’ unions, the most unlikely of allies in this fight, have come out in opposition to Common Core.
In Massachusetts, the school board’s decision to withdraw was partially motivated by the state’s declining test scores after adopting the standards, a pattern that has been repeated in other states as well. For those always harping on the need for testable, empirical progress in education (a need which, frankly, I’m not convinced exists), this should be all the evidence they need that high stakes testing and one-size-fits-all standards don’t work to achieve their goals.
If even a liberal stronghold like Massachusetts can see the error of Common Core, and work to come up with a better solution, there’s no excuse for the rest of the country continuing to hold back. There’s no reason why conservative states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana should still be stuck with a big government program that makes their students worse off when they should be given the freedom to soar.
States like Oklahoma, Missouri, and South Carolina have already withdrawn from the standards, but Massachusetts is only a little late to the party. There is still much work to be done in the states where Common Core persists.