As expected, the Common Core standards have become a significant electoral issue – one that is separating Washington establishment politicians from grassroots conservative candidates.
While Dave Brat’s (R-VA) stunning victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was largely focused on the immigration debate, Brat’s opposition to the Common Core standards and such “top down approaches by the Federal Government” was spelled out on his website.
“I will support efforts to place Virginia’s teachers, parents, and local officials, who best understand the needs of the community, in control of our education system,” Brat said.
Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) faces a run-off primary election against longtime incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R) on June 24. In February, McDaniel spoke at an education summit in his state where he reaffirmed his position against the Common Core standards.
“This type of issue is right at the heart of what we conservatives believe in and that is local control over these issues,” McDaniel said. “I think there are others out there, like Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee and Rand Paul who believe just as we believe. We’re going to do the very best we can to get rid of Common Core once and for all.”
McDaniel backed up his words with action by co-sponsoring bills in the Mississippi state senate to halt implementation of Common Core and to permit parents to opt their children out of mandatory electronic data tracking.
Cochran, on the other hand, sent a letter to President Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to “express [his] support for…the Race to the Top Fund,” from which came competitive grants that lured states into adopting Common Core.
In fact, veteran Sen. Cochran has always been supportive of a strong federal role in education, as evidenced by his vote in 1979 to help President Jimmy Carter establish the Department of Education.
McDaniel’s colleague, Mississippi State Sen. Angela Hill (R), who co-sponsored legislation to halt the Common Core in their state, told Breitbart News, “Chris and I have spoken together about Common Core, particularly from the perspective of the separation of powers in the Constitution. We believe Common Core is unconstitutional.”
“The federal government tried to skirt the law,” Hill added. “The whole premise is flawed, and there is more control of education now than with No Child Left Behind because now they have control of the testing.”
Hill also pointed out that “silent leadership” and tough business community adversaries made it difficult for her, McDaniel, and other conservatives in the state legislature to get their bills debated or even heard.
“I believe had the Mississippi Economic Council not pressed Common Core and advocated to keep it, it would have been much easier to get rid of or pause the standards,” Hill said.
Tennessee State Rep. Joe Carr (R) is also hoping to get rid of the Common Core standards as he tries to become the GOP’s U.S. Senate candidate from his state. Carr is running against veteran Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has supported the Common Core side by side with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R). Yet, when confronted with questions about his support for Common Core, Alexander tells the media, “Let’s don’t talk about Common Core.”
Carr prefers a repeal of the controversial standards but ended up with a vote of 82-11 to delay Common Core in the Tennessee State House, though the measure could not get approval in the State Senate.
“Voters nationwide are making a choice between a Washington establishment that wants to grow the size and scope of government in our lives and in our children’s education and true conservatives like Dave Brat and Chris McDaniel who are taking a stand against a government-led invasion into our classrooms,” Carr told Breitbart News. “Common Core is not the solution to our education crisis and working families in Tennessee don’t want Barack Obama’s Department of Education to act as our state’s school board.”
“I will fight against any effort to expand the use of Common Core,” added Carr. “The question Tennessee voters have to ask themselves is will Lamar Alexander stand with them in the fight against big government?”
Retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness (R) is hoping to win the GOP nomination for the Louisiana U.S. Senate seat over his opponent, the establishment’s favorite, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R).
Cassidy states he is a “strict Constitutionalist” and is against the federal government forcing states to adopt the Common Core standards. However, his actions on other “constitutional” issues, like voting to fund Obamacare, when he, like most Republicans, says he is against the health reform law, leave some questions about what he really is for or against. In fact, last October, Cassidy headlined a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a $500,000 Obamacare grant-funded school-based health clinic.
As Breitbart News’ Tony Lee observed, Maness also pointed out that, like Eric Cantor, Cassidy has never signed the anti-amnesty pledge from the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
Maness, on the other hand, has been working with grassroots parents’ groups in Louisiana who have been fighting to repeal the Common Core standards.
“I first came into the opposition to Common Core as a parent of a special needs seven year-old,” Maness told Breitbart News. “My son was having problems with the new curriculum in his public school, and I came to realize it was Common Core.”
Maness said he sought out the Louisiana Against Common Core group and “was given educational briefings by them.” He added that the organization cited the government documents used to drive the student data collection and the PARCC testing.
Sara Wood, one of the organizers of the grassroots parents’ group praised Maness as “a wonderful person.”
“He has been openly supportive of parents, since long before anyone else cared to be so publicly brave,” she told Breitbart News. “He spoke at one of our first rallies in September on the steps of the Board of Secondary and Elementary Education.”
“I am supporting Col. Maness for U.S. Senate and pray that he pulls a miracle like Brat of Virginia,” said Wood.
“It’s not standards per se that trouble me, but the Common Core teaching methods are a big worry,” Maness continued. “My son’s methodology for multiplication is odd, and it makes it difficult for children and for parents to help them.”
Maness also expresses serious concern about Common Core’s mandate of the collection of private student data.
“The government is looking to collect over 400 pieces of data without parents’ permission,” he said. “What will it be used for? Workforce training? We want good education, not for kids to be pigeon-holed.”
“Common Core is much more than just a set of standards,” Maness said. “It’s a system itself and it’s driven from the top down.”