Less than a year ago, Beltway pundits laughed when rank and file conservatives said the Common Core standards would be a major issue in the 2016 presidential race. Now, the conservative stars of the GOP who are lining up as potential contenders know the education reform initiative boondoggle will be a critical aspect of the debates.
“I think Common Core will be a bigger debate than anybody really imagines, or particularly more than Gov. [Jeb] Bush,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle.
“I think our party by and large would really agree with me: We really don’t need a Department of Education,” Paul added. “I’ve been for abolishing it since 1980 when Ronald Reagan ran against it. I think there’s still a huge percentage of our party that thinks education should be handled at the local level not at the federal level.”
Establishment Republican Bush continues to be a strong supporter of the Common Core, which has grown in unpopularity, particularly among Republicans.
Conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been on record as “emphatically opposed” to the Common Core standards since last year. Additionally, Cruz is also the lead cosponsor of the Enhancing Educational Opportunities for All Act, a measure introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) that hopes to expand school choice.
“I don’t think the federal government has any role dictating the content of curricula,” Cruz told the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators last spring. “I think education is a state issue and a local issue, and ideally at the local level, because that way parents can have direct input and control of what’s being taught to their kids.”
Though once a supporter of the Common Core standards, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) heard the voices of conservatives who blasted the overreach of the federal government in drawing states into signing onto the controversial education reform. Jindal slammed back by suing the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally manipulating states into adopting the Common Core with federal grant money and relief from federal regulations. Jindal also joined lawmakers in his own state in a lawsuit that alleged Louisiana education officials did not comply with state law when they began implementation of the Common Core.
In December, Jindal told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that Common Core was a “bait and switch” just like Obamacare.
“This is a violation of the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. Existing law says the federal government shouldn’t make curriculum decisions,” he said. “They’ve broken federal law in the Race to the Top funding, in the No Child Left Behind waivers using federal dollars to force states into Common Core. By the way, I’m still for high standards. I don’t want a one size fits all approach coming out of D.C.”