Two Indiana state House incumbents, endorsed by the administration of Gov. Mike Pence (R), fell to candidates supported by grassroots campaigns that stood firmly against the Common Core standards.
The campaigns claimed Pence performed a deceptive maneuver in simply “rebranding” the Common Core standards even as he took credit for being the first state to abandon them.
The losses for incumbent Republicans come just as the GOP establishment has attempted to deny claims by grassroots, conservative activists that the Common Core standards will be a major electoral issue this year, and as the nation approaches the next presidential election in 2016.
In a recent GOP poll that favors Common Core, researchers at McLaughlin and Associates wrote, “The anti-Common Core positions may be inviting in the short-term, but looking to November supporting state standards that elevate school achievement have far more upside.”
According to Erin Tuttle and Heather Crossin of Hoosiers Against Common Core, Pence endorsed State Rep. Kathy Heuer over Christopher Judy (pictured, left), and Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann endorsed State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki over Curt Nisly (pictured, right), while Hoosiers Against Common Core endorsed both Judy and Nisly.
Judy easily beat Heuer, 57%-43%, and Nisly handily won over Kubacki, 65%-35%.
According to Tuttle and Crossin, “Both challengers reported Common Core was an issue of concern with voters as they went door-to-door in their districts.”
The activists observed that when voters challenged Kubacki and Heuer on their positions regarding the Common Core, the candidates acknowledged their votes against the Common Core pause bill in 2013 but claimed they were vindicated on the issue when they voted to mandate new standards to replace Common Core. The so-called “replacement” standards, however, were judged by parents and many of the nation’s top authors of academic standards as being strikingly similar to Common Core and, in some cases, even inferior.
Tuttle and Crossin said many Indiana voters have seen through this “ruse to fool Common Core opponents.”
“The legislation gave the appearance of voiding the Common Core while the Indiana Department of Education and the Center for Education and Career Innovation walked it through the backdoor,” they wrote.
“When questioned in an article on Politico about the new standards, Heuer claimed that the issue was a ‘conundrum,’ she explained that she was against the Common Core, but supported the new standards and felt they were well aligned to Indiana’s previous standards,” Tuttle and Crossin said. “National experts contracted by the state to review the new standards have called them a ‘cut and paste job’ and a ‘Common Core rebrand,’ which caused voters to be skeptical of her position.”
“Republicans haven’t, and won’t, get far on the false premise that they ‘got rid’ of Common Core in Indiana, especially after students return to school this fall and find the Common Core aligned textbooks and lesson plans still intact, fuzzy math and all,” the activists wrote. “When parents realize they have been misled, the worst part of the Common Core battle will come forth; when it does, the opposition will be stronger and the outrage directed at Republicans.”