Myth vs. Fact 2

Common Core Standards Will Dictate What Is Taught In Classrooms

“The proponents of Common Core and PARCC continue to insist that tests and standards are not about curriculum, but that’s a ruse. Teachers already know that what is tested at the end of the year is what is taught in classrooms throughout the year. PARCC may not mandate one textbook or one pacing guide, but the CEO of the federally funded PARCC has admitted one thing: PARCC controls instruction and instruction is curriculum.” Statement from the Office of Governor Bobby Jindal, August 25, 2014



Correcting the Record. It’s hypocritical for Gov. Jindal to accuse Common Core supporters of a “ruse” when his own actions to undermine schools’ efforts to implement higher standards have been roundly dismissed as pure politicking.

Gov. Jindal, who as recently as 2012 said Common Core Standards “will raise expectations for every child,” has used just about every ploy to obstruct the implementation of the Standards. This year Gov. Jindal took to the courts not once, but twice, to prevent schools from using the Standards even as they prepared to begin their first year of instruction fully aligned to new benchmarks.

A Louisiana district judge who heard the first case said Gov. Jindal’s actions had caused “irreparable harm” to the state’s students. And eventually local superintendents moved forward with Common Core-aligned programs despite the uncertainty.

The Washington Post editorial board, weighing in on the mess, wrote, “[Jindal’s] attempted end-run to the courts was smacked down by a state judge who said the Republican governor’s actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students. That should have been the end of the matter, particularly with school starting, but sadly Mr. Jindal seems more intent on burnishing his conservative credentials for a presidential run than in serving the interests of students.”

Yet, Gov. Jindal’s thinly-veiled political motivations aside, parents are right to wonder what impact Common Core Standards will have on their child’s classroom. And educators’ answer has resoundingly been that the Common Core Standards retain local control of how and what is taught.

The Common Core Standards are just that: standards. They do not dictate what schools teach or how it’s taught. Common Core Standards set clearer expectations of what students should reasonably be able to achieve at each grade level. Decisions of how to reach those goals – that is, what materials are used and how teachers lead their classes – remain up to local school districts and educators.

Last year, PolitiFact dismissed with a “Pants-on-Fire” rating the idea that Common Core Standards direct schools to what materials to use. “Determining the curriculum is left up to local school boards, districts, and teachers,” it noted. “We saw nothing in the standards that either directly or indirectly told students what beliefs they should hold, whether it be political or religious.”

The belief that Common Core is a curriculum teachers must adhere to is false,” a Tampa Bay Tribune fact-check wrote. “Rather, Common Core sets expectations for what students in kindergarten through grade 12 should know in English language arts and mathematics in order to get them college or career ready.”

Education decisions should be made at the state and local level. The Common Core Standards are designed to ensure that is where control is kept.