Proponents of the Common Core standards are spinning the GOP electoral wave in their favor. Faced with plummeting support of the education boondoggle, its advocates seem to be hoping no one will notice how unpopular they really are.
Common Core supporter Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a recipient of funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote the day after the election:
And what about Common Core? For sure, some of these outcomes will complicate matters in the short term. With an anti-Common Core governor-elect and an anti-Common Core state chief, Arizona is probably the most precarious state, but we should expect another round of bruising legislative fights this spring all over red America, particularly in states with emboldened Republican legislatures. Those of us who support the Common Core will win some and will lose some. But it won’t change the fundamentals: The vast majority of states, I predict, will continue to move ahead with these higher standards.
The national political scene is even more interesting. The 2016 primary campaign starts today and features several strong Common Core supporters as serious contenders. Of course there’s Jeb Bush, who continues to stick to his guns even as he wisely builds bridges to his base. But there’s also Chris Christie, who resurrected his presidential chances thanks to his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association—and as fundraiser and campaigner-in-chief for the many GOP candidates who won last night, including those in deep-blue Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts. John Kasich, meanwhile, crushed his opposition in Ohio, as did Susan Martinez in New Mexico and Brian Sandoval in Nevada. All three of them are legitimate vice-presidential candidates, at the least, and all three strongly support the Common Core.
Similarly, Rick Hess and Mike McShane of the pro-Common Core American Enterprise Institute wrote at U.S. News and World Report, “For all the debate it has provoked this year, the Common Core education standards were pretty much invisible in the midterms.”
Interestingly, in a prior article at National Review with Max Eden, Hess wrote that of the ten Republican gubernatorial candidates who spoke about Common Core during their campaigns, nine of the ten opposed it, so keeping track of that was important to Common Core supporters then.
The fact that political candidates either ducked the issue of Common Core, to avoid stirring up a tempest among voters, or proudly came out against the standards meant the education initiative was a key issue in the election. Parents and citizens who had joined together to oppose Common Core were a new powerful force with which to be reckoned, causing even the most assured politicians to squirm.
During the summer meetings of the National Governors Association (NGA), one of the owners of the copyright to the Common Core standards, governors told the Wall Street Journal that the controversial reform had become a “political minefield” and “radioactive.”
In fact, many governors were forced to respond to an uproar from their citizens over the Common Core. Gov. Mary Fallin (R), chairwoman of the NGA, changed her stance on the standards and signed her state’s repeal bill. Gov. Nikki Haley (R) also signed legislation to replace the Common Core in South Carolina. Both of these governors won re-election.
Incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), though seemingly assured of re-election, still felt the need to come up with some attempt, albeit deceptive, to remove himself from the baggage of having supported Common Core. In New York, parents, teachers, and citizens against the initiative even succeeded in obtaining a Stop Common Core ballot line.
“New York was the only State that had a dedicated Stop Common Core ballot line and we were able to secure the needed 50,000 signatures to make it an actual party for the next four years,” Yvonne Gasperino and Glen Dalgleish of Stop Common Core in New York State told Breitbart News. “We accomplished that in a state where the State Education department is one of the biggest cheerleaders of Common Core.”
“Characterizing Common Core as a non-issue these midterm elections is yet again another example of the pro-Common Core crowd trying to marginalize the real impact of the Stop Common Core movement, and that is a good sign for us,” they added.
Gov. Paul LePage (R) of Maine told his citizens one week before the election that he no longer supported the Common Core standards, and found himself re-elected after a three-way race. Similarly, Gov. Scott Walker (R), who won re-election, called for a repeal of the standards in Wisconsin.
With regard to the Senate races, Common Core opponent David Perdue (R-GA) won without a run-off, and incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) became an enemy of the standards in the nick of time to win his tight race.
“There was one race in Georgia in which Common Core was the primary issue: State School Superintendent,” Jane Robbins, senior fellow of Education of the American Principles Project, told Breitbart News.
“The anti-Common Core candidate, Richard Woods, won easily and received more votes than the governor did,” she continued. “This in spite of the fact that he was running a shoestring campaign against a well-funded candidate who enjoyed the support of the immense Georgia education establishment (not to be confused with teachers).”
Most polls leading up to Election Day asked participants specific questions about Common Core. Subsequently, and not surprisingly, it was discovered that as Americans learned more about the standards, their dislike for them increased substantially. In fact, possibly for the first time, Americans are aware of the effects of progressive education policy on the nation as a whole.
“The 2014 midterms were clearly decided against Common Core where that was an issue,” Joy Pullmann, research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing editor of The Federalist, told Breitbart News. “Single-issue candidates—the state superintendents in Oklahoma and Arizona–were elected on straight anti-Common Core platforms.”
“Andrew Cuomo’s showing was terrible for him in that blue state, and largely because of the Common Core issue,” Pullmann added. “GOP governor pickups in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland definitely got s push from anti-Common Core voters.”
“To pretend Common Core is a non-issue ignores the Common Core supporters who are bailing on its federal tests like rats from a sinking ship,” she said.