Thank you for contacting me in opposition to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Maryland. As an educator and father of five, I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue. I recently joined many of my colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan expressing concerns with the implementation of CCSS.
In 2009, forty-six governors, including Governor O'Malley, signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Governor's Association committing their states to the development and adoption of CCSS within three years. States then had the option of adopting CCSS or creating their own equivalent standards. At the time, CCSS were simply an idea where states would collaborate to create uniformed education standards. Details about CCSS were not only unknown to the states, they did not exist. From there, the Department offered Race To The Top (RTTT) grants and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers to states under the condition that each state would implement "college and career ready" standards. At the time, the only "college and career ready" standards with the Department's approval were CCSS.
Not only am I concerned with the implementation of CCSS, but the standards themselves have become increasingly worrisome. Though initially promoted as state-based education standards, CCSS, as they have been developed over the last few years, are nothing of the sort. In just one very troubling instance, CCSS will replace state-based standardized testing with nationally-based standardized testing, the creation and initial implementation of which will be funded in full by the federal government. The long-term, annual administering of the exams, the cost of which has not been specified by the Department, is to be funded by the states.
Because states opted-in to CCSS, there is little Congress can do to provide any relief from these burdensome and misguided standards. Instead, the ability to opt-out of these standards lies with the state. With that in mind, I would also suggest that you contact your state senator and delegate as well to make them aware of your thoughts on CCSS.
I strongly feel that the best way to accomplish the goal of improving our education system is to empower parents, educators and local governments with the authority to make decisions involving education. As a state senator in Maryland for 12 years, I fought to keep educational issues handled largely on the local and state level, where government closest to the people resides. Parents, teacher, school boards, and local governments are the best people to determine what works in their individual communities. That is why education policy and funding should be largely handled at the state level, where decisions can be made that address each states specific needs.
As the 113th Congress addresses the many challenges facing our nation, I hope you will continue to share your suggestions and comments with me. Please, contact me via email for a faster response. To keep up with my work in Congress, please visit my website at harris.house.gov and sign up to receive updates at harris.house.gov/contact-me/newsletter.
Andy Harris M.D.
Member of Congress