The Associated Press has now acknowledged what grassroots groups of parents and citizens have been saying for months: the centralized academic standards known as the Common Core have grown to become a defining electoral issue for Republican 2016 hopefuls.
As the AP states, national educational goals were a priority for President George W. Bush, whose “No Child Left Behind” policy received bipartisan support but has subsequently been widely criticized because of its overemphasis on testing. Many of those GOP hopefuls who might have followed in Bush’s footsteps are taking a different path, pointing out that political elites from both parties in Washington are the candidates promoting the Common Core standards.
Nevertheless, the AP still adopts the Common Core supporters’ talking points, as in referring to the standards as “voluntary” and “state-led,” and using Obama-friendly phrases indicating that the President and his administration “embraced the standards.” The AP also ties the ire of grassroots activists who oppose the Common Core to anger at “the Obama administration over the 2010 healthcare law.”
Just six years after Bush left office, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul last week referred to a set of state-created standards, called Common Core, as a national “curriculum that originates out of Washington.” That kind of statement stokes outrage among grass-roots conservatives, who are still incensed with the Obama administration over the 2010 health care law.
It also happens to be untrue: Forty-four states voluntarily participate in Common Core standards developed in part by Republican governors. And some other potential GOP presidential candidates support the standards and are objecting to the red-meat rhetoric designed to fire up the party’s most fervent supporters.
In fact, the Common Core is a federally promoted education initiative introduced in the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus bill through a competitive grant program called Race to the Top (RttT). States could apply and compete for federal grant money as long as they adopted the Common Core, a set of uniform standards and aligned curricula and testing that allow for a greater role of government in education, higher levels of social engineering, student data collection, and teacher evaluations based on student performance on assessments aligned with the standards.
The National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and nonprofit progressive education think tank Achieve, Inc. were mainly responsible for the initiative, and both the NGA and the CCSSO are the publishers of the Common Core State Standards and own the copyright to the standards.
The state boards of education, most of them unelected, signed onto the unproven standards with little, if any, public or media scrutiny, prior to even seeing the standards themselves.
The implementation of the Common Core has been privately funded primarily by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, underscoring the alliance of big government political elites and corporatists in this academic initiative.
In addition, both the Brookings Institution and Pioneer Institute have published recent studies revealing that the claims of Common Core supporters about the standards’ “rigor” and ability to prepare students for college are invalid.
“This is a microcosm of the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” said Chad Colby, a former top Republican National Committee spokesman who is now with the pro-Common Core group Achieve. “High education standards are too important to our economy and international standing to be derailed by ideological purists with no alternative plan.”
Potential 2016 presidential candidates such as Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz (R-TX), however, have come out against national curricula.
“How we teach history, how we teach world civilizations, there’s a lot of input of philosophy that goes into that. I would prefer it not come out of Washington,” Paul told reporters when asked about his position on the Common Core recently. “I would rather not see a national curriculum.”
Similarly, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said in Iowa at a gathering of homeschool families last month, “I don’t think the federal government has any role dictating the contents of curricula.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has reversed his once-supportive position of Common Core, a switch that was criticized by ardent Common Core champion, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL).
At least 34 states have now raised some form of legislation against the standards themselves, the aligned testing, or the associated student data collection.
Yet, the AP reports that Republican pollster John McLaughlin stated that a majority of Republicans support the Common Core when they are given information such as “the standards are voluntary” and “limited to math and reading.”
“When it’s about standards, Republican primary voters strongly support it,” McLaughlin said.