Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Common Core & PARCC Face Lawsuit Challenge in New Mexico

One of the keys to corporate education reform is that applying the rules of competition and the marketplace will lead to better results in schools. This is the theory behind vouchers and charter schools and anti-union and anti-tenure and national standards and standardized testing and value-added measures and a host of other reforms. Granted, there are numerous problems with applying competition and market practices to an institution that is not a market. And, surprisingly, some market-oriented conservative groups oppose the ability of the market to fix education through national standards. However, I can understand the simple appeal and basic motivation for reformers to believe they can do so.

And, I am pretty sure I've heard Bill Gates argue that competition and market policies are the key to improving educational outcomes. And, I'm also pretty sure Bill Gates never truly wants competition for any of his ideas. So, it's not all that surprising to learn that market forces and competition were ignored in the establishment of Common Core State Standards. And, it's not surprising that a scandal is brewing over the multi-million dollar contracts secured by Pearson, Inc. to draft and administer the requisite standardized tests for the Common Core. In New Mexico, the first legal challenge has been filed, as the American Institutes for Research has caught the ear of a federal judge who supports the claim of "bid-rigging" in securing the $240 million a year testing contract with states administering Common Core tests such as PARCC and SB.

Clearly, the issue of "school choice" is paramount in this argument, as schools should have more than one option for the tests of general standards. It would seem that competition between standardized testing companies such as ACT and SAT and AIR and others would produce the "best tests." But clearly, the people behind Common Core and PARCC are opposed to anyone competing with their "solutions" to public education.

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