I wanted to draw your attention to an op/ed written by James Stergios, Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass of the Pioneer Institute entitled “The Massachusetts Exception” published at The City Journal.
It’s common knowledge that in 1983, a federal report called A Nation at Risk indicted the “rising tide of mediocrity” in American public education and called for a school system that would be among the best in the world. Far less well known is that only one state effectively responded to that challenge: Massachusetts. By passing the landmark Education Reform Act of 1993, which pushed content and high standards above all else, the state became an outpost of success in a landscape of academic failure. Today, however, federal initiatives—especially the push for national education standards, which may have beneficial effects in lower-performing states and which Massachusetts has adopted—threaten to undermine the reforms that made the Bay State the nation’s unquestioned educational leader…
…With this record of success, Massachusetts should be the model for other states to follow. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened, thanks to the development of the Common Core State Standards (see “The Curriculum Reformation”). The push for national education standards dates back to the first Bush administration, when Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander called for voluntary national standards and testing. After the Clinton administration’s attempt failed in the mid-1990s, efforts to implement national standards lay dormant until the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation decided to make them a top priority. Beginning in 2007, the foundation funded the development of national English and math standards. It also supported organizations like Achieve, the National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the Fordham Institute, all of which advocated for national standards. Ze’ev Wurman—a Silicon Valley high-tech executive and former federal education official who played a central role in developing California’s standards—says that the Gates Foundation’s total investment in the national standards reached $100 million last year.
Read the whole thing here.