Advancing a Free Society

Bill Bennett, James Madison, and National Curricular Materials

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The big fuss about “national curriculum” has lately slid into an argument about whether the federal government may—and should—have anything to do with “curriculum.” Actually, it’s an argument limited to the Education Department, which has in its founding legislation a specific prohibition on “controlling or directing” curriculum. (Other federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and Arts and Humanities endowments have engaged for decades in the funding, development, evaluation, and encouragement of curricula.)

A whole bunch of folks, mainly conservative policy wonks and grumps, have spent a whole bunch of time in recent weeks declaiming that Arne Duncan is a sinner if not a lawbreaker because his Race to the Top program encouraged states to adopt the new “Common Core” academic standards and because he gave a bit of federal money to the two assessment-development consortia to help pay for instructional supports and curricular materials related to their forthcoming tests (which are, in turn, supposed to be aligned with the dreaded Common Core).

Continue reading Chester Finn at EducationNext

(photo credit: Lindsay Filz)