A budget battle is brewing in Michigan. But it isn’t the type of spending battle typically associated with budget making—this is a fight over the future of Michigan’s educational autonomy. It’s a battle over Common Core national standards.
According to a report by the Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS) (subscription required) published Thursday night:
A conference committee was originally scheduled to meet at 8:45 a.m. this morning to consider the MDE budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. But by the end of the day, Sen. Howard WALKER (R-Traverse City) reported that the meeting has now been pushed back to next week.
The reason for the delay, confirmed Rep. Bill ROGERS (R-Brighton), is Common Core, a set of education standards developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Asked if it was fair to say Common Core was the reason that discussions on the MDE budget are ongoing, Rogers responded, “That’s not even fair. It is. It is a discussion over the Common Core issue.”
He added, “There’s [sic] still a lot of questions in regard to Common Core.”
Michigan policymakers have every reason to be concerned about the impact that Common Core will have on the state’s education system. National standards and tests further remove parents from decisions about what their children are taught, will have a negative impact on literary study, contain sequencing and other flaws in mathematics (putting the math content years behind that of the highest achieving countries), will prove costly for states, and will further grow federal intervention into education.
The Common Core effort, originally spearheaded by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), became quickly entangled with Washington. Billions in federal funding was used to create incentives for states to adopt the standards, yet the effort has left state taxpayers to pick up the tab for their implementation, conservatively estimated to cost more than $16 billion.
According to the MIRS report, Rogers stated that Common Core “deserves to be vetted before we make those kinds of decisions.” One prudent option for Michigan—and every other state that hastily adopted Common Core national standards—would be to follow Indiana’s lead and “pause” it’s implementation.
Indiana has put the standards on hold for a year while the Indiana Office of Management and Budget determines what Common Core will cost Indiana taxpayers, and while the legislature determines whether the new standards are superior—or inferior—to the state standards Indiana abandoned to adopt Common Core.
The constitutional authority for education rests with states and localities, and ultimately with parents—not the federal government. The federal government has crossed this line in the past, but dictating curriculum content is a major new breach that represents a critical level of centralization and a major setback for parental rights. Michigan policymakers, along with Governor Rick Snyder, should take this opportunity to reclaim control of the content taught in Michigan schools.
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