Tocquevillean Education or Cartel Federalism?
The development of the Common Core, the model school curriculum standards that have been adopted by 45 states, offers us a glimpse into the dark underbelly of the democratic drift toward soft despotism. Proponents tout Common Core as “state-led” and say states “voluntarily adopt” the standards. Philanthropic and corporate America have gotten involved voluntarily. Parents and students—those most intimately affected by the initiative—won’t get to be a part of the voluntarism. But Common Core is so good, the argument goes, they’ll want it anyway.
Bringing greater uniformity to the K–12 curricula across the country is supposed to rescue kids stuck in lousy schools and improve standards for everyone. But policy analysts across the spectrum from Brookings to Heritage are expressing skepticism about the promises accompanying the new standards. And it is quite likely that such bureaucratic uniformity from Washington to the state capitols and then to every public school district in the land will pose new risks to America’s federalist experiment in self-government.