This is the second in a series about the report released by American Principles in Action, ThePulse2016, and Cornerstone Policy Research Action. Permission has been granted for text from Common Core Report: Grading the 2016 GOP Candidates to be published on Stop Common Core in Washington State. The Executive Summary from the report was published in the last post. Here is the first section of the report following the Executive Summary.
1. The Need for a Scorecard
The Common Core wave swept over America with little notice. Long before the Standards were developed, private entities developed the plan to push them into the states. Then, as President-elect Obama was preparing to take office, they convinced his education team to make it part of the $1 trillion economic stimulus effort that had bi-partisan billing as being necessary to save America from economic and fiscal catastrophe.
The strategy underlying the Common Core initiative rested on the No Child Left Behind structure of standards-based education. Accordingly, significant changes in a state’s standards would, if necessary to ensure alignment, lead to changes in the state’s assessments and curriculum. The intent to have such alignment is well documented.1 In addition, it is a matter of common sense: if you have standards-based education, then of course standardized tests and curriculum should be aligned to those standards.2
Initially, 48 governors signed onto the concept of developing a common set of K-12 curriculum standards.3 However, as the Common Core train gathered speed, parents and policymakers started to realize the significance of the attendant policy and academic changes. They started pushing back against those changes. Within a few years, the pushback had become a true national movement. By the end of 2014, potential presidential candidates realized that the Common Core had grave defects and was a political liability. As Sen. Paul said in 2014, “I’m saying that that the hypothetical candidate that’s for Common Core probably doesn’t have much chance of winning in a Republican primary.”4
Just as the Common Core wave swept over America unnoticed by citizen and legislator alike, politicians have vastly underappreciated the pushback against it. It has become a true national cause fueled by fact, citizen passion and parental love. This comes at a time when 60% of Americans (68% of Republicans) think education is on the wrong track versus 32% (27% of Republicans) who think it is on the right track. Moreover, 77% of Americans (79% of Republicans, 73% of Democrats, and 83% of Independents) have a dim view of the federal government’s performance in K-12 education.5
Now, almost every GOP candidate opposes Common Core or at least criticizes how it was pushed into the states. But, as Joy Pullmann discussed last December, the content and consequences of their policy views vary greatly.6 For example, in stating his opposition to Common Core, a candidate might merely mean the federal government should not have incentivized the adoption of the national standards. But does the candidate believe the standards are of poor quality? Does the candidate recognize the nexus between the poor quality and the perversions of the constitutional process through which the Common Core was foisted on the states? Does the candidate have policy prescriptions for preventing future federal overreach? Does the candidate believe that all would have been fine if the federal government, the Common Core owners, and the state bureaucracies had done a better job of “selling” the program to parents? Does the candidate support parents in their battle to reclaim control of education policy-making? Does the candidate recognize the implications to student and family privacy and parental rights inherent in massive amounts of data collection and sharing?
The footnotes are available in the full report. You can download the full report by clicking on Common Core Report: Grading the 2016 GOP Candidates.