Common Core Fight in Arizona Breaks Out Among Republicans

Common Core Fight in Arizona Breaks Out Among Republicans

Once again a state has found itself in a tough fight in the effort to eliminate its Common Core education policies and once again the fight is unexpectedly occurring between factions of the Republican Party instead of between members of the GOP and the Democrats.

Common Core has been quite a sticking point in Arizona, so intense that Republican Governor Jan Brewer bowed to pressure to do something about it. Her solution was just to rename the state’s Common Core program in order to draw attention away from the controversy.

Unfortunately, despite the renaming of the policy–it is now “Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards”–the name change did not denote much by way of any changes to the policy and didn’t do a thing to satisfy opponents of Common Core.

Since Brewer’s big policy name change Republicans in the state have been squabbling over what to do about the standards that most feel are little different from the Common Core policies that parents and tea party groups in the state opposed from the beginning. And now the squabble has moved to the Arizona State Board of Education.

Two appointees to the Board of Ed are about to lose their seats and it just so happens that the two targeted voted in favor of the Common Core policies under fire.

Nomination periods for members of the Board of Ed expire after a year unless they are confirmed by the Senate and the two members in question are on the eve of the end of their nomination grace periods.

As it happens, during their terms the pair voted in favor of Brewer’s Common Core program. These votes are likely why board Vice President Greg Miller and Diane Ortiz-Parsons have not gotten their confirmations.

Insiders told the media in Arizona that Ortiz-Parsons, who has served on the board since 2009, is targeted due to “attendance problems.” She has missed four meetings between 2009 and 2014. This, it is said, is the pretext her opponents are using to oppose her return to the board.

In the case of Miller, serving since 2010, opposition to him seems to be based entirely on his vote in favor of Common Core, though no one is confirming that publicly.

Governor Brewer’s office is criticizing Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Kimberly Yee, along with Senate President Andy Biggs, for not allowing the conformation process for Miller and Ortiz-Parsons to continue.

Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilde recently said, “We want those voices represented.” Further, Wilde says that the Governor has no intention of nominating anyone else to the positions.

But Yee seems to be pushing for replacements regardless.

“If there are other nominees who are as qualified to be members of that board and who will serve out the responsibilities of the appointment, including showing up for meetings, then we welcome those nominees,” Yee told the media. “We have asked the Governor’s Office to provide… some new, fresh faces.”

It is clear that the elimination of Common Core in Arizona is being stymied by Governor Brewer and her allies–Republicans all.

We are seeing this repeated all across the country in states controlled by Republicans. Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Iowa, Georgia, and others are having intra party fights among Republicans with some lined up to keep Common Core and others determined to eliminate the policies.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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