SEATTLE – Leaders of the state Democratic Party have passed a resolution condemning the national education standards known as the Common Core, nearly five years after the state adopted the new learning goals.
At a party meeting in Olympia on Saturday, the Democrats approved a resolution saying the state was unfairly pressured into adopting the new standards.
They are asking the Legislature and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn to back away from the Common Core and return to a similar list of education goals created in Washington state.
Dorn said Tuesday that he continues to support the Common Core and wonders why Democrats are taking this stand now. He said national standards make sense because mobile families, including those in the military, should get a similar education for their children no matter where they move.
"I do not believe that most people understand what this is about. It's become a political propaganda issue," Dorn said. "This wasn't just done overnight. This was done over a long period of time with a lot of input from teachers and administrators, and top education researchers."
The Common Core is a list of math and English learning goals for every grade level. For example, the standards say when students should learn how to work with fractions. The new standards were adopted in Washington state in 2010, and some school districts have been using them for more than two years.
The state Democratic Party says the new standards give too much power to federal interests. The Democrats' resolution says the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association were influenced by millions of dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other groups to support the Common Core.
The resolution says the U.S. Department of Education improperly pressured state legislatures into adopting the Common Core.
The resolution approved by the Democrats is similar to a resolution passed by Washington Republicans a year ago. The resolution mentions the new tests to gauge how much children are learning under the new standards, but the tests are a separate issue.
Dorn said he's been pushing for national education standards for more than 20 years and believes the Common Core is beneficial to school children everywhere.
"This levels the playing field," he said.
He said the new national standards are similar to Washington state's previous standards but more challenging than standards in some states.