GOP 2016 candidate Mike Huckabee’s photo appears among a list of political, education and business leaders who support the Common Core standards in a book provided to state lawmakers by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI).
Recently, Huckabee has distanced himself from the controversial education initiative. But some pro-Common Core groups are still including the former Arkansas governor among the supporters of the reform.
According to parent activist Caryn Jenkins and other Breitbart News sources in Louisiana, a book titled Common Sense About Common Core was delivered to the state’s legislators this past week by Lane Grigsby, founder and chairman of Cajun Industries and chair of LABI’s Education & Workforce Development Council. The book included a photo of Huckabee, citing his as a Common Core supporter.
Jenkins says Alliance for Better Classrooms, a political action committee (PAC) that in April also delivered stuffed unicorns to state lawmakers who support anti-Common Core legislation, also helped in delivering the books containing the photo of Huckabee. The PAC launched its “Unicorns Are Not Real” campaign as a means of ridiculing lawmakers and parent activists who want Common Core repealed in the state. Huckabee, Jeb Bush, and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) were among those listed as supporters of Alliance for Better Classrooms.
Following Breitbart News’ article about Huckabee’s inclusion in the list of supporters, the candidate said the Alliance used his name without permission to promote its unicorn campaign, and told the group to remove him from its list. Parent activists in Louisiana, however, reported they had warned Huckabee’s team a week prior to Breitbart News’ article that the former governor’s name was on the list of supporters of the unicorn campaign.
In response to a request for comment from Breitbart News, Hogan Gidley, senior communications advisor to the Huckabee campaign, said in an email statement very similar to the prior statement sent to Breitbart News:
Over the years, Governor Huckabee has repeatedly called for the killing of Common Core through all of his social media accounts, his Fox News television show and his nation-wide radio broadcasts. Now that he’s a candidate for President, there will be countless efforts to try and misrepresent the Governor’s clearly stated and well-documented position against Common Core. This is just simply another one of those election year lies.
Governor Huckabee believes education is a family function, not a federal function – period. Anyone who says otherwise is either misinformed or not telling the truth.
Huckabee, however, has a history of supporting Common Core. As late as August of 2014 he called on conservatives to “stop the fight” over Common Core and, instead, consider the positive effects the nationalized standards might have on students in poorly performing schools.
“We want our students to achieve to the highest level they’re capable,” he told the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which had endorsed the Common Core standards in February of last year.
“They can’t do that if we dumb down the schools,” Huckabee said. “I don’t know of any conservative who wants to dumb down America’s schools. I don’t know of any student who would benefit.”
In June of 2013, Sunshine State News reported that Huckabee “came out swinging…in defense of Common Core Standards in education,” and “sent a letter to lawmakers in Oklahoma, urging them to support Common Core.”
“It’s disturbing to me there have been criticisms of these standards directed by other conservatives including the RNC,” Huckabee wrote to the lawmakers. “The truth of the matter is, these criticisms are short-sighted.”
Using the common pro-Common Core argument that the standards are separate from the tests and textbooks aligned with them, Huckabee denied Common Core would take away local control of education.
“Like many of you, I’ve heard the argument these standards ‘threaten local control’ of what’s being taught in Oklahoma classrooms,” he continued. “Speaking from one conservative to another, let me assure you this simply is not true. States and local school districts will determine how they want to teach kids, what curriculum to use, and which textbooks to use.”
“Common Core State Standards are a state-driven solution to address the large number of high school graduates who have to take remedial courses in college,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee also emphasized the connection between Common Core and workforce development, whereby states and the federal government play an active role in assuring businesses of laborers.
“From an economic and workforce development perspective, these standards are critical…Not only do these standards help the Oklahoma economy, they also help the families serving our country,” he added. “Children of military families will not fall behind when their parents, who’ve chosen to defend our freedom, are asked to move from Fort Benning, Ga., to Fort Sill in Lawton or Vance Air Force Base in Enid.”
“I hope you’ll join me and other conservatives, including many Oklahoma parents, educators and business leaders, in making it known these standards are valuable for our future,” Huckabee concluded. “They’re not something to be afraid of; indeed, they are something to embrace.”
As Breitbart News previously reported, Huckabee had been a supporter of the Common Core standards and attended a meeting at the end of 2013 of the Council of Chief State School Officers – one of the organizations that created the controversial standards. During his address to the school officers Huckabee urged them to get rid of the “Common Core” name because it had become “toxic.”
“Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat,” he said.
States that have largely rebranded – or renamed – the Common Core standards include Arizona, Iowa, Florida, and Indiana.