Where a Republican stands on the Common Core standards is now a “litmus test for gauging candidates’ conservative bona fides,” says Fox News.com, as more political experts contend that the controversial standards are helping to define elections, from local school boards to the White House.
The fact that Common Core is now viewed as a major electoral issue means education policy – and how conservatives define it – is now a mainstream topic in America’s conversation about the role of government.
With more Republican governors running from the nationalized standards each day, and pressure from both conservative grassroots groups aand well-funded PACs, Fox News.com reports that the Common Core standards initiative is now a “hot button issue within the GOP” that has even earned the nickname “ObamaCore,” one that “lays bare the political divide.”
“The center of gravity on the right has clearly shifted in recent months,” said Frederick Hess, of the American Enterprise Institute, who has been a supporter of the nationalized standards. “The Common Core is now like comprehensive immigration reform: there are respected leaders who endorse it, but they’re clearly crosswise with mainstream conservative sentiment.”
Focus on the Common Core standards will grow even more intense as their full impact will be experienced next fall when they become more widely implemented. For now, however, even U.S. Senate primary races in states such as Mississippi, Tennessee, and Louisiana have Common Core as a central issue.
According to Fox News.com, political experts predict the standards initiative will be a powerful issue in November’s midterm elections and, ultimately, in the presidential election of 2016.
“Common Core has become a flashpoint election issue,” said Emmett McGroarty, education director at the American Principles Project. “Voters are increasingly realizing that the Common Core is of poor quality and locks children into an inferior education.”
“Candidates are beginning to understand that they must demonstrate courage and stand up against the federal government and special interests like the Chamber of Commerce,” he added.
The Common Core standards are a federally promoted education initiative introduced in the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus bill through a competitive grant program called Race to the Top (RttT). States could apply and compete for federal grant money as long as they adopted a set of uniform “college and career-ready” standards, aligned curricula and testing that ultimately allows for a greater role of government in education, student data collection, and teacher evaluations based on student performance on assessments aligned with the standards.
The primary purpose of the standards is to close the achievement gap between low-income minority students and those from suburban areas.
The state boards of education, most of them unelected, that signed onto the unproven Common Core standards did so with little, if any, public or media scrutiny prior to seeing the standards themselves.
The standards were developed by three private organizations in Washington, D.C.: the National Governors Association (NGA), the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and progressive education company Achieve Inc. All three organizations were privately funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and none of these groups are accountable to parents, teachers, students, or taxpayers.
There is no official information about who selected the individuals to write the Common Core standards. In addition, the writers of the math and English Language Arts standards have never taught math, English, or reading at the K-12 level. The Standards Development Work Groups did not include any members who were high school English and mathematics teachers, English professors, scientists, engineers, parents, state legislators, early childhood educators, and state or local school board members.
In addition to frustrating students, parents, and teachers with non-intuitive math problem-solving, and the requirement of an increase in “informational text” over classical literature, the standards are, according to conservatives, an overreach by the federal government into the domain of parents and individual localities and states. This claim cannot help but place establishment Republican candidates on the defensive. After all, their party is supposed to be the one that espouses small government.