Though Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona ran as a candidate opposed to the Common Core standards in 2014, he claims a bill that would abolish the controversial initiative in his state is not “necessary” and wants, instead, to “fix” the standards.
Arizona Capitol Times reports that Ducey has “walked a fine line” in the debate over the highly controversial standards, and, rather than call for repeal and replace the Common Core – rebranded as the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards by his predecessor Gov. Jan Brewer (R) – he has called on the Arizona Board of Education to review and possibly replace parts of the Common Core look-alike.
H.B. 2190 has been approved by the Arizona state House and Senate Education Committee and now awaits a vote in the full Senate. If enacted, the bill would “prohibit the use of Common Core standards and establishes a process for the State Board of Education (SBE) to redevelop statewide academic standards and assessments.”
“I don’t think that legislation is necessary because we’re going to fix what’s wrong with these standards,” Ducey told reporters, referring to the Common Core as a “distraction.”
In addition, Ducey said Arizona would keep the AzMERIT test, which Arizona has adopted to test students on the rebranded Common Core standards.
“AzMERIT is in all our schools and will continue to be in all our schools,” Ducey said.
“We are going to set our own standards and we are going to take charge of them here in the state of Arizona,” the governor continued. “This is Arizona taking charge of its own direction, in terms of standards, keeping what works. And what doesn’t work, what’s problematic or what causes confusion and anxiety for these parents is going to be removed.”
Arizona House Speaker David Gowan (R) reacted to Ducey’s comments by saying, “What I just heard is he does still feel that we need to repeal Common Core. That, to me, would be good.”
Nevertheless, Gowan disagreed that the bill to repeal Common Core is not “necessary.”
“Here we believe in the repeal of Common Core, as you’ve already seen. So we’ll keep working toward those ends,” he said.
In a statement to Breitbart News, Sen. Kelli Ward (R) said, “The Governor says he opposes Common Core. I think we will have to wait and see what he does if this bill comes to his desk.”
“Gov. Ducey just sent me five new nominees to our State Board of Education,” Ward continued. “Two are opposed to the Common Core standards and will be heard in committee – I am in the process of interviewing the other three. As the Senate Education Chair, I determine whether or not to hear these nominees; however, they serve at the pleasure of the Governor for one year even if the Senate does not confirm them.”
Ward, who is considering a primary run against U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), has staunchly opposed the Common Core standards.
“I believe that the Common Core standards are an egregious example of federal overreach into a clearly state issue – education. I have been fighting against the federalization of our education system since I got to the legislature,” she told Breitbart News. “As the chairman of the Arizona Senate Education committee, I’ve sponsored my own anti-CCSS bills as well as supported those of others. I also oppose the massive data collection of student info as well as the use of a nationally created test to judge teacher and student performance.”
Ward said she fears HB2190 will fail on the Senate floor because of several pro-Common Core Republicans – who are supporters of big government, amnesty and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – and will join with the Democrats to defeat the measure.
“Education is a local issue – federal intervention is unconstitutional,” Ward stated. “It is clear to me that the federal government has been able to subvert the Constitution through strings attached to money – everything from speed limits, drinking age, Medicaid, and, of course, education. We have to stop this!”
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, who won her election last November primarily running on an anti-Common Core platform, told Breitbart News, “Despite being heavily outspent in both the primary and the general election, the people of Arizona clearly chose to elect me on my promise to do everything in my power to repeal Common Core. I remain completely committed to that goal.”
“Sen. Kelli Ward and Rep. Mark Finchem have bravely pursued this same course with House Bill 2190,” Douglas continued. “Unfortunately, the will of the voters may be thwarted if this bill is not given a vote and passed through the Senate.”
Despite Gov. Ducey also running against Common Core, he has unfortunately reversed that position, interfering with the removal of two pro-Common Core staff, publicly stating that now is not the time to remove Common Core, and instead asking the Board of Education to review the standards. The Board of Education has 11 members and the Governor has five appointments.
The vote count was five for Common Core and only myself against. If Governor Ducey had selected five anti-Common Core members, we could have voted to replace it 6-5. Instead the Governor appointed only one member opposed to the standards, leaving the Board with nine pro-Common Core members and only two anti-Common Core members.
“I cannot fully express my frustration with a majority Republican House and Senate and a Governor who ran as ‘anti-Common Core’ who have so far refused to act and have in fact, in the case of the Governor, acted to so exactly the opposite,” Douglas concluded.
According to the Capitol Times, Ducey’s appointments included Gilbert town councilman Jared Taylor, a member of Arizonans Against Common Core, an advocacy group that opposes the standards, while another, Yavapai County schools superintendent Tim Carter, helped develop the standards.
In addition, Ducey appointed former Democratic lawmaker Chris Deschene and Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Director Chuck Schmidt. Arizona State University President Michael Crow was appointed to the university presidents’ seat.
The Arizona Daily Independent reports that one state lawmaker referred to Ducey’s handling of the Common Core repeal bill “political suicide,” but added that the state’s chamber of commerce groups “will spend whatever it takes to protect him now that he has protected their Common Core scheme.”
The Common Core standards are championed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of its workforce development plan in which government’s school data collection will provide big business with a steady supply of labor by targeting students from a young age who will likely perform best in certain jobs and industries. Republican governors including Mike Pence of Indiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin have embraced workforce development and have been resistant to abolishing the Common Core standards in their states. Pence rebranded Common Core in his state and Walker has not committed himself to a full repeal of the standards statewide.
Last Wednesday, Ducey gave welcoming remarks at an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry Leadership Series event headlined by Walker.
“We are thrilled that Gov. Walker will be our first Leadership Series speaker,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry president and CEO Glenn Hamer said in a statement. “Gov. Walker brings a positive, pro-growth perspective to governing that will make him a formidable challenger should he pursue the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2016. We can’t wait to hear from him on March 25.”
Hamer was recently a vocal critic of state superintendent Douglas. During the controversy that erupted last month between Douglas and Ducey after the superintendent fired two state Board of Education administrators who were proponents of Common Core, Ducey charged that she acted illegally.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which lobbies in support of the Common Core standards, condemned Douglas’s actions.
“It’s bizarre and outrageous and offensive and she should apologize to all she’s offended,” said Hamer, according to the New York Times. “Her comments and behavior aren’t necessarily following a linear pattern at this point.”
As Tucson.com reported last year when the state Senate Education Committee voted to eliminate Common Core in Arizona, Hamer disagreed with the move, saying, “Our standards and our expectations were set too low,” and added that business leaders had worked with a group of governors to create new standards that would ensure high school graduates would have the skills necessary to go to work or move on to college.
Similarly, Chad Heinrich, lobbyist for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, said the move to eliminate Common Core could make Arizona students unemployable in the future.
“We have workforce needs that we would prefer to meet by hiring Arizona graduates,” Heinrich said. “If Arizona graduates are not prepared, our employers could be forced to look to other states to fill those needs.”
At a time when both likely presidential contender Walker and Ducey are being criticized for their lack of commitment to abolish the nationalized Common Core, no media were allowed in the Arizona Chamber event last week.