GOP Courts Pence for 2016, but His Common Core 'Deception' Looms

GOP Courts Pence for 2016, but His Common Core 'Deception' Looms

Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana is being courted by some establishment GOP leaders who believe he can take their party to the White House, and Pence himself seems to be warming to a bid for president in 2016. Pence and the GOP political class may be sharing the delusion, however, that the Indiana governor’s deceptive maneuvers around the Common Core standards won’t be a factor in making him a viable presidential candidate.

As the The Washington Post reports, Pence would like conservative Republicans to believe that he is “one of the loudest voices attacking Common Core, a set of education benchmarks that has sparked a revolt among tea party activists.”

The Post states:

Battling Common Core — math and reading standards for grades K-12 that 44 states and the District have fully adopted — has become a signature issue for Pence. He successfully pushed to replace it with targets “written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers.”

The fact is that Pence rejected the recommendations of at least two “Hoosier” academic standards experts: Dr. James Milgram of Stanford University and Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College, both of whom blasted Pence for “new” replacement standards that were strikingly similar to Common Core and, in some cases, even inferior.

The person Pence hired, in fact, to run his Hoosier standards replacement project was Sujie Shin, a D.C. insider who works for WestEd, an organization that has been funded by the federal government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary source of private funding for the Common Core standards.

Shin has no ties to Indiana but has plenty of connections with the U.S. Department of Education, which, as Erin Tuttle of Hoosiers Against Common Core observes, reported Shin’s duties in Indiana as facilitating the evaluation process for Indiana; training participants on the evaluation process; assisting Indiana Department of Education and Board staff in compiling results of the evaluation; and providing facilitation during the reconciliation process to ensure Indiana’s draft college and career ready standards are of the highest quality.

The Post admits:

The new state standards do not differ significantly from Common Core, however, and some conservatives have criticized Pence for pursuing them. And Democrats say opting out of Common Core — Indiana became the first state to do so — was an orchestrated appeal to the Republican base in anticipation of a presidential run.

Indeed, the problem for Pence is that he hasn’t really opted out of Common Core. In fact, he isn’t even the first governor to “rebrand” the Common Core standards with a “local flavor” name. Other GOP governors before him, including Jan Brewer (R-AZ), have simply done the name switch, as former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) has recommended.

In an editorial for Breitbart News, Dr. Sandra Stotsky describes her experience of being asked by Pence on several occasions to review the drafts of his state’s “new” standards. At every turn, the draft standards Stotsky was shown were nearly identical to the Common Core. Furthermore, neither her recommendations, nor those of other standards writers, including Hoosiers Milgram and Moore, were part of the final draft.

“Governor Pence, however, wants to be known as the political leader who got rid of Common Core from Indiana and as the governor who established a ‘model’ process for developing stronger state standards,” writes Stotsky. 

She adds:

The Pence strategy, to pretend to reject Common Core in order to pacify angry parents but to work for Common Core-compatible standards developed by incompetent but obedient local educators, is being carefully studied by other governors, state superintendents of education, and local school administrators elsewhere.

But will voters accept the “Pence deception strategy”? Apparently, they are already rejecting it, as evidenced by the fact that two Pence administration-endorsed incumbent state House members were trounced in their primary races by candidates who were supported by grassroots anti-Common Core campaigns.

“Republicans haven’t, and won’t, get far on the false premise that they ‘got rid’ of Common Core in Indiana, especially after students return to school this fall and find the Common Core aligned textbooks and lesson plans still intact, fuzzy math and all,” Tuttle writes. “When parents realize they have been misled, the worst part of the Common Core battle will come forth; when it does, the opposition will be stronger and the outrage directed at Republicans.”