Critics: Common Curriculum Would Stifle Innovation in Education

In March a group led by the Albert Shanker Institute put out a call for a common curriculum based on the Common Core Standards. Now, an opposition group has released a response, “Closing the Door on Innovation – Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America.” According to the document, not only they do they disagree that one curriculum could adequately suit the needs of an entire country, but “Such an approach threatens to close the door on educational innovation, freezing in place an unacceptable status quo and hindering efforts to develop academically rigorous curricula, assessments, and standards that meet the challenges that lie ahead.”

The group’s leaders–Williamson M. Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution; Jay P. Greene and Sandra Stotsky, professors at the University of Arkansas; Greg Forster, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Educational Choice, and Ze’ev Wurman, a former U.S. Department of Education official who has worked on California’s standards and tests in math–also oppose the Common Core Standards and the assessments. (Some funding for assessments has been provided  by the U.S. Department of Education.)

Here are the group’s main arguments.

  1. There is no constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula.
  2. There is no consistent evidence that a national curriculum leads to high academic achievement.
  3.  The national standards on which the administration is planning to base a national curriculum are inadequate.
  4. There is no body of evidence for a “best” design for curriculum sequences in any subject.
  5. There is no evidence to justify a single high school curriculum for all students.

Supporters of the Common Curriculum note that The Shanker Institute did not call for a single curriculum, but “one or more sets of curriculum guides that map out the core content students need to master the new Common Core State Standards.”

More information

“Closing the Door on Innovation – Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America”

“Conservative ‘Manifesto’ Blasts Shared Curriculum,Tests”
Curriculum Matters
, Education Week blog

“A Call for Common Content”
The Albert Shanker Institute

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May 2011


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