April 23, 2014
Document updated 6/19/2014

“Common Core” Encourages Proliferation
of Nationalized Education Standards

By Lauren Mitchell
HSLDA Legislative Assistant

Recently, former secretary of education for Massachusetts and Common Core advocate Paul Reville explained why he thinks national education standards should be implemented. “The children belong to all of us,” Reville stated, while describing those opposed to the Common Core as “a tiny minority.” 1

While the debate over the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) continues and states move forward with implementation, other nationalized education standards intended for state adoption are quietly making their way into schools. Citing CCSS as inspiration, the National Sexuality Education Standards (NSES) seek to “address the inconsistent implementation of sexuality education nationwide and the limited time allocated to teaching the topic.” 2 While these standards are not part of the Common Core, they are “informed by the work of…the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics , recently adopted by most states.” 3 Another set of standards, The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), is partnered with 26 state leadership teams to provide a “framework” for “integrating science, technology, engineering, and math instruction.” 4

On June 4, 2014, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) released standards for dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts, with coalition officials stating that soon every state in the country will adopt them.5 These standards are Common Core aligned and are specifically designed to complement the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English language arts. In fact, in a College Board publication titled Arts and the Common Core: A Review of Connections between the Common Core State Standards and the National Core Arts Standards Conceptual Framework, the College Board notes that the efforts of the NCCAS “present a significant opportunity to highlight the overlap between the Common Core’s objectives and the practices of arts-based learning.”6

Under the National Sexuality Education Standards (NSES), designed by SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) and other organizations linked with Planned Parenthood, children by the end of 2nd grade are taught to “provide examples of how friends, family, media, society and culture influence the ways in which boys and girls think they should act.” 7 By the end of 5th grade, students should be able to identify functions of reproductive body parts and “define sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender.” 8 Standards like these assume that all children are alike in their maturity and development and overlook parents’ assessment of their children’s readiness for sex education.

The Next Generation Science Standards also include controversial elements, such as “ introducing climate science into the curriculum starting in middle school, and teaching high school students in detail about the effects of human activity on climate.” 9 According to the middle-school standards, “Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming).” 10

As has already been seen with the Common Core, “state” standards created by educational consortia can quickly become nationalized standards that drive uniform curriculum. Bill Gates, financier of CCSS, expressly stated this in 2009: “Identifying Common Standards is not enough. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.” He continued, “When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well.” 11 The Illuminations math curriculum by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the open-source Shared Learning Collaborative platform funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation illustrate back-door attempts by CCSS proponents to create nationalized curricula. 12 Other sets of standards, including NGSS and NSES, use the language of “frameworks,” “integration,” and “benchmarks” to obscure their goal of one-size-fits-all curriculum across the states.

HSLDA is closely monitoring the proliferation of education standards. National standards limit the ability of parents to make educational choices for their children. With the inevitable implementation of uniform curricula to match national standards, all children could be subject to exactly the same material—with less tailoring to individual needs. Nationalized standards and curricula also deprive parents of the freedom to teach their children about controversial subjects within the moral and religious frameworks they deem appropriate.

The good news is that these new standards are still in the beginning stages. The National Sexuality Education Standards remain in draft form, and the Next Generation Science Standards have been adopted by only 11 states plus the District of Columbia. 13 There is still time to take action before these reforms reach your state. HSLDA urges you to contact your local and state representatives, as well as the representatives on the House Education and Labor Committee, and tell them to resist nationalized standards and curricula.

Contrary to Reville’s statement, children do not “belong to all of us.” Educational decisions should be left up to local and state governments, affording parents the opportunity to make individualized decisions for their family.

1 Penny Starr, “Panelist at Podesta Think Tank on Common Core: ‘The Children Belong to All of Us,’” CNSNews.com , February 3, 2014, accessed March 6, 2014, http://cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/panelist-podesta-think-tank-common-core-children-belong-all-us.

2 Future of Sex Education, National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K–12 (The Future of Sex Education Initiative, 2011), 6, accessed March 6, 2014, https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B50W2Y7Vse75Q0pZQWhNN2JhZ1E/edit.

3 Ibid.

4 Next Generation Science Standards, “Lead State Partners,” Achieve, Inc., accessed April 17, 2014, http://www.nextgenscience.org/lead-state-partners.

5 Liana Heitin, “Final Version of Common Arts Standards Released,” Curriculum Matters (blog), Education Week, June 6, 2014, accessed June 11, 2014, http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/06/national_core_arts_standards_f.html.

6 The College Board, Arts and the Common Core: a Review of Connections between the Common Core State Standards and the National Core Arts Standards Conceptual Framework (The College Board, 2012), 4, accessed June 11, 2014, http://nccas.wikispaces.com/file/view/Arts+and+Common+Core+-+final+report.pdf/403442852/Arts%20and%20Common%20Core%20-%20final%20report.pdf.

7 Future of Sex Education, National Sexuality Education Standards , 12, accessed May 7, 2014, http://www.futureofsexed.org/documents/josh-fose-standards-web.pdf.

8 Ibid., 14.

9 National Center for Science Education, “Evolution and climate change in the NGSS,” April 9, 2013, accessed March 6 , 2014, http://ncse.com/news/2013/04/evolution-climate-change-ngss-0014800.

10 Ibid.

11 “Bill Gates—National Conference of State Legislatures,” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, July 29, 2009, accessed May 7, 2014 , http://www.gatesfoundation.org/media-center/speeches/2009/07/bill-gates-national-conference-of-state-legislatures-ncsl.

12 Illuminations: Resources for Teaching Math, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, accessed May 7, 2014, http://illuminations.nctm.org/; Tabitha Grossman, Ryan Reyna, and Stephanie Shipton,   Realizing the Potential: How Governors Can Lead Effective Implementation of the Common Core State Standards   (National Governors Association, 2011), 24, accessed May 7, 2014,   http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/1110CCSSIIMPLEMENTATIONGUIDE.PDF.

13 “State Adoptions of NGSS: California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington” (Citizens for Objective Public Education, 2014), accessed April 22, 2014, http://www.copeinc.org/docs/StateAdoptions-march2014.pdf.