By TJ Martinell
Nationwide opposition to Common Core is on the rise, and more and more students and parents are choosing to opt-out on their own. According to a story by U.S. News & World Report over half a million school-aged children opted out of Common Core standardized testing last year. In New York around a fifth of students simply didn’t take the tests.
In November 2013, Federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan attributed opposition to Common Core to “white suburban moms” who discovered that “all of a sudden, their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought.”
Like so many federal bureaucrats, Duncan was dead wrong, as USA News reports the opt-out movement reflects widespread distaste crossing demographic lines:
When the opt-out movement first gained traction in 2014, it was initially dismissed by some educational policymakers as a movement primarily taken up by middle-class white families concerned that new standardized tests would reveal their children to be lower-achieving than once thought. Data from New York, for example, suggests that those opting out tended to come from more affluent areas and are more likely to be white.
However, data from Ohio have shown a much more inclusive movement, representative of the state population. Early evidence from 2016 suggests that the movement has been gaining momentum in communities of color – the Seattle chapter of the NAACP issued a statement in support of opting out, and principals in New York City have publicly voiced support for giving parents the right to opt out.
Teachers have also indirectly expressed their opposition to Common Core, emailing parents about how their students can opt out without fear of punishment.
In other words, Americans have a variety of reasons to not like Common Core. One more reason is that it’s an unconstitutional effort by the feds to stick their nose in an issue they have no business trying to manage.
Constitutionally, education is an issue that is reserved to the states or the people – outside the purview of federal power. Common Core State Standards Initiative is an education initiative that details what K-12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. While devised and created by state-level associations, the federal government has driven adoption through an unconstitutional grant program called Race to the Top.
Americans can set the stage to end Common Core by contacting their state lawmakers and urging them to introduce withdrawing the state from the program. This would restore education to local control – and effectively nullify common core. It’s an approach James Madison advised in Federalist #46, in which he wrote a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” would make federal laws impossible to enforce.
But when state legislators refuse to act, individual action can also be an effective strategy. Massive opt-outs create a path forward parents wanting to eliminate Common Core standards and put education back into the hands of state and local bodies where it belongs. Ultimately, if enough students opt out of the testing, it could collapse the Common Core system altogether.