With conservative grassroots activists having educated parents, teachers, and lawmakers about the nature of the Common Core standards initiative, proponents of the education reform are desperate to bolster a possible presidential run for Jeb Bush, who was recently booed at CPAC by conservatives for being a champion of the now grossly unpopular plan.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, a nonprofit known as Collaborative for Student Success is now running radio and print ads in support of Common Core in Iowa, where the 2016 presidential nominating process will begin. The group hosted reporters in Washington, D.C. to get out in the media what it claims are the “facts” about Common Core.
“This ad is the first of what we expect will be a longer, more sustained effort to get the facts out on Common Core and hold accountable presidential candidates that employ misleading and inaccurate rhetoric to describe Common Core,” said Ed Patru, a spokesman for the Collaborative.
Former Secretary of Education under President Ronald Reagan Bill Bennett, who has admitted he is paid to promote the Common Core standards to conservatives, has caved to opponents of the initiative who have said all along that the standards came about through the federal government’s overreach in luring states to sign on to Common Core when they were strapped for cash. Recently at CPAC, for example, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) admitted that he agreed to adopt Common Core because his state needed the money, a decision he now “regrets.”
“Washington incentivized states to adopt them. That was wrong and we should be vigilant to ensure that that never happens again,” Bennett now says. “But these sound academic standards are worth fighting for. Let’s go back to the original, conservative understanding of Common Core.”
However, the claims that the Common Core standards are “sound” and “rigorous,” are based on a comparison of the nationalized standards with states’ existing standards performed by the pro-Common Core and Gates Foundation-funded Fordham Institute, which media including the WSJ continue to label as “conservative.” No independent studies have been performed on the standards to validate these claims or those that tout the standards are “internationally benchmarked” and capable of making students “college- and career-ready.”
“It is…disappointing when Fordham repeatedly implies the excellence and inevitability of ending up with ‘Common Core’ or ‘Common Core-like’ standards because of their supposed excellence based only on Fordham’s own evaluation,” former U.S. Department of Education official under President George W. Bush Ze’ev Wurman told Breitbart News recently. “[F]ordham’s presumption that its grading of the standards is meaningful, and that its pinning the medal of excellence on the Common Core — or medal of shame on states like Kansas — justifies its support for federal and state education bureaucracies lacks empirical evidence.”
In addition to the Fordham Institute, partners of the Collaborative for Student Success include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Student Achievement Partners, an organization founded by Common Core “architect” and current College Board president David Coleman, and lead writers of the standards Jason Zimba and Susan Pimentel; Stand for Children chapters in various states; and the National PTA.
As the WSJ suggests, one goal of the ad campaign could be to “offer some political cover” to Bush, who said, “We should say quite clearly…the federal government has no role in the creation of standards,” a distortion of the truth since the tests aligned with the standards are being created by federally funded consortia, and states were offered Race to the Top (RttT) grants funded by President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill if they adopted the “common,” “uniform” standards.
Except for Bush, those considered as potential GOP presidential candidates have expressed criticism for the nationalized education reform, knowing the conservative base of the Republican Party is solidly opposed to it.
As Breitbart News reported last August, a Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup (PDK/Gallup) poll found that only 19 percent of Americans knew “nothing at all” about the Common Core standards and that 60 percent opposed teachers using the standards to guide what they teach.
The survey of more than 1,000 Americans 18 years and older, found that Republicans appear to be most educated about the Common Core standards, with 54 percent stating they knew either “a great deal” or “a fair amount” about the initiative, compared to 40 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Independents.
Of those identifying as Republicans, 76 percent said they opposed teachers’ use of the Common Core standards, compared to 38 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Independents.
The New York Times characterizes Bush’s campaign as a “paradox,” stating that while he is “well out in front in the race for elite Republican donors and for the support of the party’s establishment…he is unpopular with many in the rank and file, who can pick from a large crop of younger White House contenders who also pass the conservative litmus tests that Mr. Bush fails.”
Bush’s failure to gain the approval of rank and file conservatives appears to some to be a sign of elitist arrogance too quick to dismiss the intelligence of an educated grassroots base.
“Many parents around the country spent thousands of hours thoroughly vetting Race to the Top and its progeny,” Thea Shoemake, an anti-Common Core grassroots activist from Ohio, told Breitbart News. “Unfortunately, we not only got bit by the Kasichs, Fordhams and Bushes, but also mocked, bullied, and were called every name under the sun.”
“Of course bullies use ad hominem attacks to conceal their inferiority,” she continued, “which in this case is the fact that the overwhelming majority of those who support this boondoggle did not do their homework, so much so that their hypocrisy and inconsistencies are well-documented.”
“Instead of vetting the situation for themselves, now they are doubling-down with more money and resources,” Shoemake added.
Similarly, Heidi Huber, who also organizes the grassroots effort against Common Core in Ohio, found the notion of the Collaborative for Student Success heading to Iowa to “hold presidential candidates accountable” laughable.
“Seriously? With all due respect to Patru, Petrilli and Bennett, parents don’t need your bought and paid for surveillance,” Huber said in a statement to Breitbart News. “In fact, the need for yet another Gates-funded ‘non-profit,’ pseudo-philanthropic organization to cheer for Common Core serves only to prove you are no match for the unpaid, well-researched moms who now own the conversation.”
“It is to the point of embarrassing that after a five-year campaign and billions of dollars, only those benefiting financially from the Common Core scheme stand in support,” she asserted. “Boys, maybe it’s time you pack up and leave the heavy lifting to those who are naturally and uniquely equipped for the job, the parents.”