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September 23, 2009
October 02, 2009
The American Legislative Exchange Council, a useful group of mostly conservative state legislators, wrestled for months over the "Common Core" state standards for English language arts and math. Critics of those standards feared homogenization of curriculum and excessive federal interference in K-12 education. Supporters noted that adopting and implementing the Common Core is up to individual states in any case, that greater rigor in what American kids learn in school is desirable, and that comparability and predictability across state lines in these two core subjects has much to be said for it in a mobile society situated on a shrinking and ever more competitive planet.
After due deliberation, this past weekend ALEC's "Legislative Board of Directors" voted to remain neutral on the issue, thereby not pressuring its members and states in either direction. This was the logical outcome for a group that generally respects state sovereignty in realms such as education. Many questions remain to be answered about Common Core implementation and the as-yet-unseen assessments (and "cut scores") now under development, and it's absolutely proper for individual states to handle this differently. As ALEC's high command eventually concluded, it would not be proper for a national organization to try to sway them—any more than it's proper for Uncle Sam to do so. He hasn't always resisted the temptation. It's good that ALEC did.