On Friday Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) called on conservatives to “stop the fight” over the Common Core standards and, instead, consider the positive effects the nationalized standards might have on students in poor-performing schools.
As ABC News reports, Huckabee, considered to be a 2016 presidential hopeful, was addressing the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) in Washington, a group that includes over 40,000 churches and 16 million evangelical Hispanics.
In February, the NHCLC announced its endorsement of the Common Core standards and its plans to launch a nationwide campaign to salvage the increasingly unpopular initiative. On September 7, the group’s pastors plan to pitch the controversial standards initiative to their congregations during their sermons.
“I don’t support what Common Core has become in many states or school districts,” Huckabee told his Fox News audience last December. “Look, I’m dead set against the federal government creating a uniform curriculum for any subject. I oppose the collection of personal data on students that would identify them and then track them, and certainly any effort to give that personal information to the federal government.”
Just one month earlier, however, Huckabee urged the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the creators and owners of the Common Core standards, to get rid of the “Common Core” name because it had become “toxic.”
“Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat,” Huckabee told the CCSSO.
By calling on conservatives to “stop the fight” against standards for which support across the country is plummeting, Huckabee is casting himself squarely as an establishment candidate, against potential GOP candidates who know that the Common Core initiative will lead to greater federal control of education and less control by state legislatures – the representatives of the people – and local school districts and parents.
In April of 2013, nine U.S. senators signed their names to a letter asking the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the U.S. Department of Education to stop funding the development and implementation of the Common Core. The letter was introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and signers included Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
Similarly, Gov. Mary Fallin (R) of Oklahoma and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) have recognized that there is something intrinsically wrong with the Common Core. By urging conservatives to “stop the fight” against the standards, Huckabee is setting up a hefty barrier between himself and conservative candidates and their constituents who want education back in the hands of parents, teachers, and their representatives, not in the hands of state bureaucrats doing the bidding of the U.S. Department of Education.
“Put the students first,” said Huckabee to the NHCLC. “The programs are less important.”
The former governor doesn’t get that conservatives are fighting against how this Common Core “program” came into existence in the first place. The fact that 45 state boards of education signed onto a set of unproven standards – sight unseen – even prior to being published, is what the “fight” is about.
Louisiana state Rep. Brett Geymann (R) is leading the charge in his state House to exit the standards and their associated tests.
“The fight is truly over getting local control back, and it is a fight we cannot afford to lose,” Geymann told Breitbart News. “The public must be allowed to be engaged and involved in the process, or we are in jeopardy of losing what separates our country from all the others that it seems we’re in danger of emulating.”
Emmett McGroarty, education director at the American Principles Project (APP), told Breitbart News that it is “the fight” that will bring about good policies about education.
“Allowing a state board of education to exercise both legislative – that is ultimate policy-making authority – and executive authority invites false confidence and arrogance,” McGroarty said. “It paves the way for fads to be driven into the classrooms. Now, legislators, driven by the people, are waking up to that reality and reclaiming their essential role in our system of checks and balances.”
Jamie Gass, director of the Center for School Reform at the Boston-based think tank Pioneer Institute, also sees the value of “the fight.”
“State legislative authority to establish laws, policies, and K-12 public education funding in the United States trumps the powers of state boards of education,” Gass told Breitbart News. “State constitutions enumerate legislative powers first, whereas nearly every state board of education is wholly subordinate to state lawmaking and appropriations.”
Conservatives fighting the Common Core are putting students first by participating in the debate about education policy and modeling to their children how American government works.
It’s unlikely conservatives will heed Huckabee’s call. The “fight” is much too important.