Sen. Grassley: Federal Government Pressured States to Sign Onto Common Core

Sen. Grassley: Federal Government Pressured States to Sign Onto Common Core

In a radio interview on the Tea Party News Network, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) explained how the federal government pressured states to adopt the Common Core standards with lures of money and waivers from the federal education restrictions associated with No Child Left Behind.

Grassley, a strong opponent to Common Core, joined host Tim Constantine on TPNN.com‘s The Capitol Hill Show to discuss the nationalized standards.

“Both constitutionally and from a practical standpoint, I believe the policy on education should be made at the state capitols or the local districts, not in Washington, D.C.,” Grassley said. “I think that’s backed up by the 10th Amendment. The practical reason for doing it is that our country is so geographically vast and our population so heterogeneous that policy made in Washington, D.C. doesn’t fit New Hartford, Iowa where I’m from the same as New York City.”

Grassley added that the practice of bribing local school districts with taxpayer money leads to resentment over what amounts to an attempt to establish a curriculum and policy using taxpayer funds.

Responding to Constantine’s question about “arm-twisting coming out of Washington that if you do not adopt the standards, then you will be penalized,” Grassley asserted, “That’s exactly what happened. In order to get Common Core adopted quickly in the 50 states, it was tied to Race to the Top money.”

“A lot of states thought they would get a lot of money. Not more than a dozen actually did,” said Grassley. “But they accepted the principle of Common Core.”

“Also, if states wanted waivers from No Child Left Behind, it also involved Common Core,” the senator added. “From that standpoint, it’s the pressure of Washington to bring about Common Core as a national approach. Quite frankly, it shouldn’t have been done that way.”

Grassley has led a group of eight U.S. senators in a fight to defund the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Deb Fischer (R-NE), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) joined Grassley in signing a letter in April of 2013 that asked the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the U.S. Department of Education’s (USED) funding of the Common Core to bar the USED from using funds to develop, implement or evaluate state-level education standards, or to award grants or contracts for development, implementation or evaluation of state-level education standards.

“While the Common Core State Standards Initiative was initially billed as a voluntary effort between states, federal incentives have clouded the picture,” Grassley wrote. “Current federal law makes clear that the U.S. Department of Education may not be involved in setting specific content standards or determining the content of state assessments.”

The letter continued:

Nevertheless, the selection criteria designed by the U.S. Department of Education for the Race to the Top Program provided that for a state to have any chance to compete for funding, it must commit to adopting a “common set of K-12 standards” matching the description of the Common Core. The U.S. Department of Education also made adoption of “college- and career-ready standards” meeting the description of the Common Core a condition to receive a state waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Race to the Top funds were also used to fund two consortiums to develop assessments aligned to the Common Core and the Department is now in the process of evaluating these assessments.

During the interview, Grassley exposed the distortions and lies used to sell Common Core to the states.

“The idea was to make it look like it was very local and brought up from the grassroots through the governor’s association and the national organization of chief state’s school officers,” Grassley explained.

He continued:

You’ve got to remember, they are based in Washington, D.C. and they got involved because there were other movements to establish a national curriculum that weren’t moving fast enough. So, they adopted this and, to make it look like it was state oriented and coming from the grassroots up, I think maybe it’s easier to sell that until you start looking into where the roots of it happened, basically here in Washington, D.C.

I don’t think the governors and chief state’s school officers were as involved as they want us to believe. Even if they were, the fact that its tied to federal dollars and having the federal government having conditions for those federal dollars adopting Common Core, you get back to the establishment of curriculum based upon national testing.

Grassley’s analysis of what actually led to the drafting of the Common Core standards was confirmed by their “architect,” David Coleman, now president of the College Board, who admitted, as did former Obama advisor David Axelrod, that the standards were not “state-led.”

“When I was involved in convincing governors and others around this country to adopt these standards,” Coleman stated in 2013, “it was not ‘Obama likes them’ – do you think that would have gone well with the Republican crowd?”

Similarly, Axelrod said at a Common Core debate last November in Chicago that Common Core was “an initiative of the Obama administration.”

“In the end, subverting the Tenth Amendment and usurping what is definitely not just a constitutional state right, but as a practical matter ought to be a state right,” Grassley said. 

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