In 2010, Utah replaced its statewide education standards with the Common Core State Standards, a set of educational guidelines developed outside the state. Most sets of statewide standards, including Common Core, are likely to lead to the standardization of education, which means lower-quality education for children.
Rigid standards like Common Core prevent educators from personalizing schooling. They lead to standard outcomes, stagnancy and mediocrity rather than diversity, creativity and personal excellence. Standardized learning may benefit adults in some ways, but it harms children, who should be able to achieve at their highest – which will occur on their own path and pace.
Utah has also entered agreements related to adopting Common Core that create unnecessary risks for children. For example, it has agreed to support any decisions made by a group of states that are writing tests aligned with Common Core – a group that is accountable to the federal government through strings attached to the federal dollars it has received. With these agreements, the state has given up some of its autonomy over public education to other states, the federal government and private interest groups.
Common Core standards have also been rated by many scholars as inferior to or no better than other education standards. Common Core may provide some benefits, such as being able to compare student performance across state lines, but none of these justifies its disadvantages. Utah should choose only the best for children in its public schools.
What can we do about it?
Simply put,Utah should remain independent of any agreement that jeopardizes the autonomy of its public schools. This means opting out of national movements like Common Core and federal education programs like No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
If Utah wants to continue to have statewide standards, then it should reject standardization by creating its own standards that are independent, broad and adaptable, giving full discretion to parents working with teachers to guide the educational path of each child.
Preserving an individualized learning environment for all children is the only route to success in education, and parting ways with Common Core would be a step in that direction.