Collateral Damage

Lawmakers in Kansas are considering a repeal of rigorous standards this week. The house education committee sent a bill that would repeal the Common Core to the full assembly, even after the state department of education estimated that the cost of repeal would be almost $10 million.

The cost of repeal is not surprising, given that other states have estimated similarly exorbitant costs to abandon standards. What is unique about the Kansas legislation, though, is what it might mean for other kids of rigorous, internationally benchmarked standards; a local news station reports that:

to repeal Common Core standards could also mean the end to Advanced Placement Classes and International Baccalaureate programs.

In the rush to condemn one set of standards, other, long-standing methods of signaling academic excellence could get caught in the crosshairs. Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, for decades, have provided the average public school with mechanisms for signaling high academic achievement. Like the Common Core, they were designed to align with the rigorous expectations of higher education institutions, and unlike older state standards that the Common Core hoped to replace, AP and IB stood out even among international comparisons.

While the "opt out" movement and the motivated attempts to remove the Common Core reject the forced standardization of schools, those same forces were curiously silent while suburban schools loaded kids with AP courses throughout the last half century. Now that we're about to level the playing field for all children - especially the most vulnerable ones - the knives have come out.