CBS News says the Common Core standards will likely play a major role in the GOP nominating process for the 2016 presidential election, separating conservative candidates from those who support the top-down, nationalized education initiative.
“That’s doubly true in Iowa, where the kinds of Republican voters most vehemently opposed to Common Core – evangelical Christians, home-schooling advocates, states-rights conservatives – exert considerable influence over the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus,” CBS News observes.
The nationalized standards are serving as a “litmus test” for voters, Tamara Scott, a policy adviser and lobbyist for the Family Leader, an Iowa-based conservative organization, told CBS News. “These are our children, and when you take parents out of the picture, which is what Common Core will do, most people find that offensive.”
“It’s going to be a top tier issue,” said John Brabender, who advises former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). “I think it’s really the sleeper issue going into 2016 in Iowa.”
Brabender added that the issue of Common Core was among the first questions asked at every town hall meeting Santorum has held recently in Iowa.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, however, has championed the Common Core standards for several years, and remains committed to them, though his support for them has been considered a major hurdle for him with the conservative base of the Republican Party.
As Breitbart News reported last August, a Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup (PDK/Gallup) poll found that only 19 percent of Americans knew “nothing at all” about the Common Core standards and that 60 percent opposed teachers using the standards to guide what they teach.
The survey of more than 1,000 Americans 18 years and older found that Republicans appear to be most educated about the Common Core standards, with 54 percent stating they knew either “a great deal” or “a fair amount” about the initiative, compared to 40 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of independents.
Of those identifying as Republicans, 76 percent said they opposed teachers’ use of the Common Core standards, compared to 38 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents.
Bush, however, has spoken about the Common Core standards as both more “rigorous” and “higher” than other standards and, as the Boston Globe recently observed, as the new “minimum” in classrooms.
No independent studies have been conducted to support the claim that the Common Core standards are more “rigorous” or “higher” than other standards.
According to CBS News, Justin LaVan, a lawyer and president of the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators, said Bush’s stance on Common Core will be a “big issue” for him among Iowa participants in the state’s caucus. A candidate’s support for common core raises red flags “about who they are and what they believe about education and states’ rights,” he said.
Another potential GOP 2016 candidate – former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee – has his problems with the Common Core standards as well. The former Fox News Channel host supported the Common Core for years, and said conservative criticism of the standards was “disturbing.” Huckabee told the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the creators and owners of the Common Core standards, that they should simply get rid of the “Common Core” name because it had become “toxic.”
“Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat,” Huckabee said.
As CBS News indicates, however, Huckabee said last month at the Iowa Freedom Summit, “Anybody who tells you I support Common Core is incredibly less informed than he or she pretends to be or is just being plain dishonest because they really want to help somebody else.”
“What I can tell you as a strategist is…anybody who says that they’ve supported Common Core in the past is going to have a difficult time explaining to GOP primary voters why they ever supported it,” Brabender said.
“Common Core is big everywhere,” he added. “You would be hard pressed to find a state where it’s not a critical issue…and it is every bit as potent an issue as Obamacare or immigration or any other issue. It’s also probably one of the few issues where there are legitimate differences between the candidates.”