The Federal Government is planning on imposing national curriculum standards on all public schools. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution authorizes the federal government to exercise any control over education, and this limitation is reinforced by a longstanding federal law that forbids the federal government "to mandate, direct, or control ... school's curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of state or local resources." Control of public school curriculum is a very desirable prize for those who want to control the future. Even Jimmy Carter's Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Joseph Califano, admitted in 1977, "national control of curriculum is a form of national control of ideas." The bait is use of our money, lots of it.
The Obama Administration plans to do an end-run around the Constitution and the federal law by tying what is called Common Core Standards to the granting or denying of federal appropriations, both the $4 billion Race To The Top money and even Title I funding. That effectively makes the Common Core Standards compulsory because state politicians are not likely to turn down billions of dollars and, so far, 36 states have already adopted the Common Core Standards.
Much of the argument for Common Core Standards is that our decentralized control of curriculum in 50 states is so unlike educational systems in other countries, but so what! Americans respect our exceptionalism and our federalism. The research into systems used in other countries is largely irrelevant to the United States. Other countries have a long tradition of central government control, whereas the United States has strong traditions of parental authority, limited government, and state (not federal) control of education.
The better way to go is toward what is known as school choice, that is, allowing parents to choose the school they want for their children. Private choice would sort out the curricula that do the job of making kids smart.
Listen to the radio commentary here: