Libertarians and the Common Core

What’s a libertarian to do?

Will new Common Core State Standards exert a deadly centralizing impulse on all types of school?  Will independent options winnow down as private schools seek to prepare their students for new standardized tests?

That’s the worry articulated recently by JD Tuccille in the pages of libertarian flagship Reason Magazine.

Tuccille pointedly refutes the canard that the new standards are some sort of sinister conspiracy to agglomerate educational power in the hands of distant federal agents.  The problem, he writes, is more banal.  New tests aligned with the standards will likely exert pressure on independent schools to match their curricula to those of the public schools.  As he concludes,

Under the circumstances, “Waldorf,” Montessori,” “traditional academy” and “IB” risk becoming Coke vs. Pepsi brand names peddling similar products—assuming they can even survive the transition costs.

Private and religious schools, while mostly exempt from legal mandates to adopt Common Core, are also under pressure to toe the line. Some that accept tax-funded vouchers are required to adopt the standards to continue in such programs. Others find that non-Common Core-compliant textbooks are becoming difficult to find. And the biggest motivation might be the move by college entrance exams to test for mastery of Common Core standards.

Of course, as Tuccille notes, parents can always exempt themselves and their children from this pressure by opting out of institutional schooling entirely.  But for those folks who value free choices in education, it does seem palpably evident that any success for standardization will represent a narrowing of those choices.