Though the Common Core initiative was once dismissed as a little-known and tedious education policy issue, the New York Times says that the nationalized academic standards have grown to be a central electoral issue that is separating establishment Republicans from grass roots, limited government activists.
Jonathan Martin, writing for the Times, identifies Common Core as an issue that has already led some Republicans who were once ardent supporters of the standards to abandon them due to the intensity with which grass roots groups of parents and teachers have protested them. Common Core opponents object not only to the highly non-transparent and intrusive manner in which the standards have come upon the American educational scene, but also to some of their strange content that seems to demand problem-solving skills that are not instinctive to students in general.
According to the Times:
Conservatives denounce it as “Obamacore,” in what has become a surefire applause line for potential presidential hopefuls. Other Republicans are facing opprobrium from their own party for not doing more to stop it. At a recent Republican women’s club luncheon in North Carolina, a member went from table to table distributing literature that called the program part of “the silent erosion of our civil liberties.”
In fact, Common Core has even taken on the language of ObamaCare. Supporters of the centralized standards Rick Hess and Michael McShane of the Gates Foundation-awarded American Enterprise Institute (AEI) sniped at grass roots parents and standards professors, who say Common Core will dumb down America’s students, by charging these opponents “can’t just say no” to Common Core; they must “repeal and replace” it.
The fact is, however, many opponents have been suggesting all along that academic standards considered to be the finest in the nation already existed in states, such as Massachusetts, prior to Common Core. The question of why states or local school districts might not simply adopt those or similar standards of their own choosing has more to do with the social engineering aims of Common Core and an Obama administration that is fully behind that effort.
As grass roots groups of parents have found their voice, however, the Times observes that Republican Common Core champions like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are “becoming a small club.”
Potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates Sens. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (KY), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (FL) all have separated themselves from Bush, Christie and other GOP Common Core supporters.
Then there are those Republicans who are attempting to walk on both sides of the Common Core fence.
At the end of last year, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former champion of Common Core, told his Fox News audience that Common Core had become a “toxic” issue that he could no longer support. One month earlier, however, he urged the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the developers and a copyright owner of the Common Core standards, to “rebrand” the standards.
“Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat,” Huckabee said.
Since then, some state legislatures and governors have proceeded to simply “rebrand,” or “rename” Common Core to a label with more local flavor.
Gov. Mike Pence (R) of Indiana, who, as a member of Congress, once opposed President George W. Bush’s initiative No Child Left Behind, signed a bill in March that formally made his state the first to abandon the Common Core standards. Indiana’s former GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels actually made the Hoosier State one of the first to adopt them. However, what is considered to be the final draft of Indiana’s “new” standards seems to be either very similar to Common Core or, in some cases, even worse.
In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who was for the Common Core before he was against it, has announced that he will use his executive authority to withdraw his state from the centralized standards and test consortium if the legislature fails to do so on its own.
The Times notes the other big players in the Common Core controversy, namely, Bill Gates, whose foundation has been the primary private source of funding for the nationalized standards, and the Gates-funded U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
The opposition to the Common Core also captures another shift since the Bush administration: While long contemptuous of an expanding federal government, some Republican activists are growing wary of big business, too, including figures like Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft founder whose foundation supported the development of the standards.
“There is a legitimate concern about large institutions, be they government or others, who haven’t really delivered the America everybody thought we were on our way to,” acknowledged John R. McKernan Jr., a former Maine governor who leads the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. But, he said, that fear is “totally misplaced” when it comes to the Common Core.
Groups like the American Principles Project (APP), however, the leading national organization fighting against the Common Core system, are not surprised that Common Core has become a major electoral issue.
Jane Robbins, a senior fellow at APP, told the Times that grass roots groups who want education issues decided at the local level are making their demands known to lawmakers who want to be re-elected.
“I think the establishment in the party has been slow to recognize how big this is,” Robbins said.
“The pushback against the Common Core system gains momentum by the day,” Emmett McGroarty, education director of APP, commented to Breitbart News as well. “At its heart are mothers and fathers who are reclaiming control over their children’s education. They are well-informed, and will recognize any attempt to deceive them by trying to re-brand Common Core.”
“The politician who does that will meet his Waterloo,” McGroarty predicted.