Common Core | Viewpoint
Common Core, Obamacare and the Numbers Game
With field tests underway, will CCSS reach the same tipping point that the Affordable Care Act has?
The Common Core State Standards and the Affordable Care Act have a few big things in common. They are both enormous social initiatives that began with noble goals. (Despite the current hyperpartisan political climate, I think we can all agree that developing 21st century educational standards for our public schools is a good idea, as is improving access to healthcare.)
Both CCSS and the ACA have, of course, faced political opposition. Many of the ACA’s most vocal critics have called it an intrusion of federal power into a state-level issue. I believe this reaction helped create some of the opposition to Common Core, which is based on the misconception that the standards are a federal initiative. This backlash led to Indiana’s recent withdrawal from the standards.
Both CCSS and the ACA have also been hampered by rocky rollouts. The troubles with the healthcare.gov website have been covered exhaustively, and the Common Core assessments have had their share of troubles, including opposition from parents and teachers, postponed field tests and states switching assessment providers. In fact, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was quoted as saying, “You think the Obamacare implementation is bad? The implementation of the Common Core is far worse.”
Despite its troubles, the ACA reached a tipping point at the end of March. With more than 7 million people signed up for health insurance through the exchanges, the law now has millions of citizens on its side, not to mention a deep-pocketed healthcare industry that is welcoming all those new customers.
Common Core (which has its own powerful allies in the business world) also reached an important milestone at the end of March, by which point PARCC and Smarter Balanced had administered hundreds of thousands of field tests of the new assessments. The assessments certainly face more obstacles on the road to implementation next spring, but as more educators get comfortable with them, Common Core is looking like it, too, will win the numbers game.
Christopher Piehler is editor in chief of THE Journal.