School-choice and common core are mortal enemies

On Wednesday, I attended a School Choice event hosted by America’s Future Foundation.   One of the panelists was Aquan Miles, Principal from Taylor Prep who enthusiastically talked about the innovative ways her high school is meeting the needs of the community.  Also on the panel was Dan Quisenberry of MAPSA.   Quisenberry spoke highly of School Choice and charter schools.  Like many involved in education policy, he desires that all students have a chance to learn and all schools have a chance to innovate.   Quisenberry talked about a school in Benton Harbor that uses farming as means to prepare students for success.    All good and exciting until I pointed out during the Q&A that Common Core and Smarter Assessments will effectively end innovation and true school choice.

Quisenberry didn’t seem to grasp the magnitude of the threat that common core posed to innovation and school choice.  In his view,  Common Core State Standards are just necessary standards that don’t interfere with what goes on in the classroom.   Obviously, Mr. Quisenberry and I disagreed on that point but thankfully, I’m not the only one who sees the dilemma Common Core poses to school choice.

In a timely article for Town Hall, Michelle Malkin makes the threat crystal clear.  She aptly titled her piece,  “School choice and Common Core: Mortal Enemies.” and included the story of a charter school principal in Colorado.

Derek Anderson, principal of Ridgeview Classical Schools in Fort Collins, Colo., wrote to me last fall about the existential threat his charter school faces. “Ridgeview Classical Schools is a K-12 charter school that offers a classical liberal arts education to approximately 800 students. We were established in 2001, and we have generally been one of the top three schools in Colorado since opening,” he said. “Our most significant issue with Common Core and the PARCC exams is that we feel we will lose the autonomy and other protections granted to us when Colorado adopted its Charter Schools Act in 1994….”

“PARCC is truly the enforcement mechanism that will coerce schools into adopting the Common Core curriculum. We cannot do this. It is entirely against the mission and philosophy of our school.” It is, in short, sabotage. Anderson calls it an “almost existential dilemma. Our mission and philosophy are irreconcilable with Common Core’s.””

Malkin also recognized the hypocrisy of the GOP who promote school choice and support Common Core,

Big-government Republicans such as Jeb Bush and flip-flopping Mike Huckabee pay lip service to increasing school choice and supporting charter schools, private schools and homeschooling. Yet, they have been among the loudest GOP peddlers of the Common Core “standards”/textbook/testing/data collection regime thrust upon schools who want nothing to do with it.

“Alignment” with the new regime means mediocrity, mandates, privacy invasions and encroachments on local control and educational sovereignty. I’ve seen it in my daughter’s polluted math curriculum. We are not alone. The threat is not just in one subject. It’s systemic….

Surprisingly, Malkin concluded her piece with a quote from my article, True School Choice: A Beautiful Thing,


Homeschool mom of six and blogger Karen Braun of Michigan sees the threat to her choice, too. Her trenchant message: “True school choice allows a parent to choose any school that meets their child’s needs, not just those that adopt Common Core State standards and assessments.”

Thanks Michelle Malkin for the recognition but more importantly for helping us all understand the threat Common Core poses to school choice.  I hope school choice advocates in Michigan and around the nation see the light soon so we can get about the business of providing true choice and innovation in education.


You’re invited to “Common core at the Capital” in Lansing on February 5.  Come hear Dr. Terrence Moore from Hillsdale talk about how Common Core kills the love of literature.  Following the event, attend a hearing on SBAC and help lawmakers understand that assessments will end true school choice in Michigan.  Details at the our Facebook page.