Common Core Advocates Biggest Losers in Iowa

2016 Iowa Caucus winner Ted Cruz in New Hampton, IA on 1/23/16. Photo credit: Dave Davidson (

2016 Iowa Caucus winner Ted Cruz in New Hampton, IA on 1/23/16.
Photo credit: Dave Davidson (

Well I’m back from a break as I was focused on covering the Iowa Caucuses, and the results from last night’s vote is pretty telling. Common Core advocates were among the biggest losers in Iowa.

Common Core certainly wasn’t the most visible issue in the last few weeks leading up to Iowa, but early in the year leading up to the Caucuses it was a question I heard a lot at various town hall meetings. It was something mentioned by virtually all of the campaigns minus a couple who tried to avoid the topic. It flew under the radar, but it was an issue that helped to divide the wheat from the chaff.  Not the only issue, mind you, but it was one of the issues.

How can I say this? Look at the results.

The top five candidates coming out of the Iowa Caucuses – Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio (albeit his record is not perfect), Ben Carson, and Rand Paul have all verbally opposed the Common Core State Standards.

The two candidates who still supported the standards – Jeb Bush and John Kasich received a total of 8,712 out of over 186,000 votes cast. That is a stinging rebuke.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, tried to distance himself from previous support of the Common Core State Standards, but most of the grassroots in Iowa didn’t buy it. That issue among others at play derailed his campaign. He only received 1.8% of the vote (3,345 votes). To put this in perspective in 2008 he had set the record for the most votes cast for a candidate. That was shattered last night.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, voters saw through his nonsense. He said he got rid of the Common Core in New Jersey. He didn’t.

Let’s see if New Hampshire can do the same.

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul Receive an A – on Common Core Report Card


U.S. Senator Rand Paul, along with Ted Cruz, received an A-.

ThePulse2016, American Principles in Action, and Cornerstone Policy Research released  a Common Core score card on all of the major Republican candidates minus former New York Governor George Pataki and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.  Leaders are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) received an A-, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal received a B+.  On the other end of the spectrum former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich received an F.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie receive a D+.  Surprisingly, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio received a C.

Here are the candidates’ grades:

A- … Ted Cruz
A- … Rand Paul
B+… Bobby Jindal
B  … Lindsey Graham
B  … Rick Perry
B  … Rick Santorum
B- … Ben Carson
B- … Donald Trump
C+… Carly Fiorina
C  … Mike Huckabee
C  … Marco Rubio
D+… Chris Christie
D+… Scott Walker
F  … Jeb Bush
F  … John Kasich

Full disclosure: I was a contributor for the report that accompanies the report card, but I did not determine the final grade.

The criteria used was:

  1. Whether the candidate recognizes the full scope of the Common Core issue and has advocated for, or taken, action that would roll back the Common Core education standards.
  2. Whether the candidate has advocated for protecting, or taken steps to protect, state and local decision-making in the area of education, e.g., offered a plan to give states enforceable protection against USED overreach, to opt out of the USED, unwind USED as a whole, etc.
  3. Whether the candidate has advocated for protecting child and family privacy, for example by opposing improper gathering and use of data including student medical information and any information that would reflect a student’s psychological characteristics or behaviors.

They could have included more criteria and noted in the scorecard report, “Due to time constraints, we did not include categories that could rightly be included in a Common Core scorecard. Those include initiatives that expand government-funded early childcare and the alignment of education to a national workforce system. Those initiatives will require increased data collection. The latter one will also entail the continuation of federal efforts to shape state “workforce investment” efforts that are an affront to state sovereignty and capitalism and that treat children and adults as human capital–as a means to an end.”

They also explain the grading:

  • A  Champions the issue (e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue)
  • B  Professes support, but has not provided leadership or otherwise championed it
  • C  Has neither helped nor hurt the cause
  • D  Has an overall negative record on the issue
  • F  Robustly and consistently works against the issue

Below are excerpts of what was said about each candidate in the report:

Jeb Bush – F

Gov. Bush is perhaps the most outspoken supporter of the Common Core Standards in the 2016 field. He has publicly praised David Coleman, one of the two chief architects of the Common Core (who is now chairman of the College Board). He has propagated the false narrative that the Common Core standards are merely learning goals and are of high quality.91 He has turned a blind eye to the reasons underlying opposition to Common Core and instead used straw-man arguments to dismiss opponents as relying on “Alice-in- Wonderland logic.

Ben Carson – B-

As a non-office-holder, Carson is pretty much limited to speaking on the issues. He says the right things but has given no indication of a deep understanding of Common Core or the attendant problems.

Chris Christie – D+

We would look for Christie to lead the effort to replace the Common Core in New Jersey with good standards – not just a “review” leading to a rebrand – and to replace PARCC with an assessment aligned to the new standards. His statement, in a thinly veiled reference to Gov. Perry, that at least he tried Common Core is particularly troublesome.116 It indicates that he does not understand how the federal government interferes with state decision- making, does not appreciate the academic deficiencies of the Common Core, and does not understand why parents are upset.

Christie epitomizes “making a big issue into a small issue.” His website does not address Common Core and does not address his view as to the relationship between USED and the states on education. Does he think it is just fine? Does he think the states need structural protections? Does he want to eliminate USED? Perhaps make it bigger? These are campaign issues, and the people want to know.

Ted Cruz – A-

We encourage Sen. Cruz to spell out in greater detail his plans for reigning in the federal government, to talk about the nexus between Common Core’s quality and the perversion of our constitutional structure and to raise the issues with accurate specifics rather than to talk about “repealing” Common Core. Does Cruz have further proposals to safeguard state and local decision-making and protect parental rights? His website does not address the Common Core issues, does not say anything about student and family privacy, and does not address his views as to the relationship between the federal government and the states with regard to education.

Carly Fiorina – C+

Fiorina’s website states, “Government is rigged in favor of powerful interests. The only way to reimagine our government is to reimagine who is running it.” She would do well to address these issues more often and in more detail -especially given that the Common Core is being driven by the “powerful interests” that claim to serve the interests of the economy and business. Fiorina would do well to discuss the issue in more depth, to raise the qualitative problems, and to state whether she has any proposals to safeguard state decision-making.

Lindsey Graham – B

Graham seems to understand the issues with Common Core today, but it is unfortunate this opposition did not come sooner. He missed an early opportunity to strike at the Common Core in 2013 by not co-signing a letter penned by Senator Chuck Grassley to the chair and vice-chair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education that called for language to prohibit the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, end the federal government’s involvement in the Common Core testing consortium, and prevent the United States Department of Education from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core.

Mike Huckabee – C

Gov. Mike Huckabee has a checkered past on the issue of the Common Core. Once an ardent supporter of the system, he now claims that the original “governor-controlled states’ initiative” eventually “morphed into a frankenstandard that nobody, including me, can support.” However, as recently as 2013, Mike Huckabee told the Council of Chief State School Officers to “[r]ebrand [Common Core], refocus it, but don’t retreat.”

As the campaign approached, Huckabee began to be more consistent in his opposition (although he was still giving a nod to the supposedly pure origins of the Common Core).

Bobby Jindal – B+

Jindal was an early supporter of Common Core. But in 2014 he come out swinging against it, although he occasionally lapses into a narrative that it was the federal involvement that made it bad. He supported legislation to rid his state of Common Core. He has also sued USED in federal court on the grounds that the Department’s Race to the Top programs was coercive, violates federal law, and is contrary to the Constitution. Jindal stumbled out of the gate on Common Core, but he has righted himself and has admirably pushed back against the federal overreach.

John Kasich – F

Like Bush, Kasich is an unapologetic cheerleader for the Common Core. His only response to the large and active anti-Common Core grassroots operation in Ohio is to make fun of them.

Rand Paul – A-

Sen. Rand Paul supported Senator Grassley’s effort to defund the Common Core in 2013 and 2014. He co-signed a letter penned by Senator Chuck Grassley to the chair and vice- chair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education that called for language to be included prohibiting the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, ending the federal government’s involvement in the Common Core testing consortium and preventing USED from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core. Sens. Paul and Cruz are the only senatorial candidates for president who co-signed Grassley’s letter.

Paul has paid more attention to the Common Core issue than most other candidates and has spoken forcefully against it.

Rick Perry – B

Gov. Rick Perry is one of the few candidates, declared or prospective, who has opposed the Common Core from the outset. As Governor, Rick Perry signed HB 462, which effectively banned the Common Core from being adopted in Texas…

…With regard to privacy, in 2013 Perry signed HB 2103, which created a data-sharing agency for educational data governed by an appointed board rather than the state educational agency. It appears that the data can only be shared within the state- with the exception of inter-state sharing with other state departments of education. Among other problems, it allows unfettered data-sharing among agencies designated as “cooperating agencies” –the Texas Education Agency, the state higher-ed authority, and the Texas Workforce Commission. It allows any researcher (no parameters on who is a legitimate researcher) to get data if he uses “secure methods” and agrees to comply with the ineffective federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It requires each participating state agency to make data available for the preceding 20 years, and allows data-sharing agreements with “local agencies or organizations” that provide education services if “useful to the conduct of research.”

Marco Rubio – C

Sen. Marco Rubio has spoken strongly against Common Core and wrote a letter to Secretary Duncan in 2011 questioning the legality of using federal No Child Left Behind waivers to drive policy changes, like the adoption of Common Core, in the states…

…Rubio’s official website does not specifically address the issue of Common Core. However, it does states that in order to prepare people to “seize their opportunities in the new economy,” high schools should graduate more students “ready to work.” It is hard to parse from this general statement what the education policies would look like under a Rubio Administration. What does Rubio believe would validate a student as “work ready”? Would it be the further alignment of our K-12 education system to the projected demands of specific sectors of the economy to train workers for favored big-businesses, which would mean more of the Chamber of Commerce-endorsed Common Core? Or, does it mean aligning education to the demands of parents and the local community as a whole, which would mean more local control? It would behoove Senator Rubio to answer these questions and to discuss the qualitative aspects of the Common Core and whether he believes the federal involvement helped, or hurt, the quality of the standards.

Rick Santorum – B

Santorum’s website addresses the problem of Common Core in terms of both federal overreach and the substance of the standards. While many other candidates do the former, few address the latter…

…Although Santorum voted for No Child Left Behind when it passed the Senate in 2001, he has since described that vote as “a mistake.” We give a candidate credit for truly admitting a mistake.

Donald Trump – B-

Trump has struck a chord with the Republican base, something many would have thought unlikely a year ago. Citizens view him as having the courage and will to stand and fight, something that many GOP candidates have seemed to lack in years past. As the primary cycle wears on, the base will want to hear more detail from Trump as well as other candidates. The candidate who does this will engender the gratitude of parents and other citizens. Trump would do well to blaze the trail on this.

Scott Walker – D+

Until recently, Governor Walker’s rhetoric on Common Core has been good. He admits that, when he ran in 2010, it wasn’t on his radar and that’s certainly understandable given how the standards were pushed into the states. He rightly gives credit to the state’s citizens for making it an issue, something that may not seem like a big deal, but it is to activists who have been ridiculed as irrational by elitists in both parties…

Sometimes legislation gets watered down despite the intrepid efforts of its proponents. At other times, a nominal proponent gives it lip service but fails to fight and, thereby, actually signals that he will not raise an objection if the legislation is defeated or watered down. On the Common Core, Walker is in the latter category…

You can read the entire report below.

Mike Huckabee Pressed on His Common Core History

mike-huckabee-2016-announcementAt the risk of sounding like a broken record, I need to discuss former Governor Mike Huckabee’s relationship with the Common Core.  I wrote a piece at The Pulse 2016 addressing Huckabee (who just announced his candidacy for President today) that radio talk show host Steve Deace brought up in an interview with Huckabee published today.

Huckabee pretty much avoids two problems I bring up in The Pulse piece:

Yes he has said many times he opposes Common Core, but as recently as 2013 he urged Oklahoma lawmakers to stick with Common Core as they considered the state’s eventual repeal. He also said in his book Simple Government that Race to the Top (which helped to thrust Common Core onto states and brought the Federal government into the mix) was a “good idea.”….

….Huckabee during a press conference in Iowa said that he is referring to the American Diploma Project when he said he liked Common Core initially.  That is not what Oklahoma lawmakers were fighting, however, in 2013. Common Core has its roots with the ADP sure, but the ADP compilation of state standards was not the final product.  That is not what Race to the Top brought into the states.

In the Deace interview he wrote (I believe this was an email exchange):

This recent article shared by several Iowa Caucus activists I know summarizes the ongoing controversy over your position on Common Core. I know I’ve asked you about this previously, but once and for all can you articulate what you think Common Core is, and do you or have you ever supported it?

I have been quite clear on this. I oppose Common Core and believe we should abolish the federal Department of Education. We must KILL Common Core and restore common sense. It has grown far beyond being STATE-CONTROLLED standards in math and language arts. Common Core didn’t have ANYTHING to do with curriculum, nor with any subjects other than math and language arts. But the feds hijacked it by tying funding to it at the same time it was adding things to the process that were not part of the original intent. CC was supposed to remain in the hands of local officials, but by making funding based on adherence the federal prescriptions it was doomed.

I still support STATE or LOCAL standards, and can’t imagine any conservative who doesn’t because conservatives have never favored dumbing down the schools or accepting automatic promotion. Education decisions are ultimately best made by the MOST local government—MOM AND DAD. But if we’re going to spend most state tax dollars on education, then we ought to insist on results. As for federal involvement, I not only favor eliminating CC [Common Core], I push for the abolition of the federal Department of Education. [Emphasis added by Gov. Huckabee]

Well, Steve tried.  Bill Gates would disagree that Common Core wasn’t about curriculum.  I’ll be the first to say that they are standards, but those surrounding the development of Common Core planned for aligned curriculum.  Gates said during a 2009 speech at the National Conference of State Legislatures, “When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well—and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large base of customers eager to buy products that can help every kid learn and every teacher get better. Imagine having the people who create electrifying video games applying their intelligence to online tools that pull kids in and make algebra fun.”

Also as I’ve said time and time and time again, the problem is with the standards themselves.  The Common Core was NEVER good.  It has ALWAYS been developmentally inappropriate for early elementary school students.  It has never, in any draft form, been on track to prepare students for STEM.  It has always had an over emphasis on informational text.

Then he complains about Federal involvement… which he supported!  He called Race to the Top a good idea in 2011 and seems to pretend that he never said it.  Admitting that he did support it and has changed his mind would go a long way.

While I’m not against quality state and local standards to say that standards themselves are something conservatives should embrace is intriguing.  The primary problem with the standards and accountability movement is that it has absolutely no data backing it up.

There’s just no data that suggests centralizing standards at the local, state or federal level will raise student achievement.  That’s not to say having benchmarks is a bad thing (if they are quality), but they are not a silver bullet.  There are plenty of other reforms conservatives (and others) can and should embrace, but putting all the eggs in the standards and accountability movement would be a mistake.

Who Discussed Common Core at Iowa Caucus Kickoff?

I have a piece up at Caffeinated Thoughts that highlights what five prospective candidates for the Republican nomination for President had to say about Common Core.  Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee all were at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, IA on Saturday, and they discussed Common Core either from the stage or with me.

Check it out.

An Iowan's Open Letter to Governor Mike Huckabee

Governor Mike Huckabee speaking at the FAMiLY Leadership Summit in Ames, IA.

Governor Mike Huckabee speaking at the FAMiLY Leadership Summit in Ames, IA.

Dear Governor Huckabee,

Last Friday you told the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference that conservatives should “stop the fight” over the Common Core State Standards.

It seems to me that, as you consider a run for President in 2016, you intend to straddle the fence on this issue.  This is a strategy that rarely, if ever, works.  As an observer of presidential politics in Iowa I’ve seen too many politicians trip up trying to play both sides.  You are not any different.

Governor, by calling the Common Core “toxic” and “radioactive” you apparently still believe that the only problem with Common Core is a branding problem. This, you have said in the past, is due to the Federal involvement in promoting the standards through Race to the Top and ESEA flexibility waivers.

Governor Huckabee, Common Core was toxic before the standards made it into the public eye.  Once again, the name of the standards is not the problem, the standards are.  We have a problem with this particular set of standards, and you are correct sir that we do not want to “dumb down” our schools.  This is exactly why we are fighting for quality standards.  The Federal involvement into Common Core is just one of several problems with the standards.  You also fail to acknowledge that it was Governors, through the National Governors Association’s report Benchmarking for Success, who encouraged federal involvement.

Governor Huckabee, if you want to fight for students you need to recognize that top-down education initiatives never work.  I challenge you to name one that has worked.  Fighting for students we recognize that our students are not “common” and our states are not either.  As Texas Governor Rick Perry would say, states are “laboratories of innovation,” and this top-down approach will kill innovation at the state level, and most certainly at the classroom level, once the accompanying assessments roll out.

If you do not want to listen to me then please listen to teachers who oppose the Common Core.  Support for the Common Core among teachers has plummeted because they have moved past the talking points to implementation.  There is research that you can read that addresses not only the problems with federal involvement, but the standards’ quality, consequences of the standards on college preparation, the cost to the states, and the potential loss of student privacy.  You can also listen to expert testimony on the subject as well.  It’s clear that you’ve listened to those who support the standards.  It’s time that you actually read and listen to what those who oppose the standards have to say.

It’s obvious to me that you’ve not really progressed beyond talking points.  You may not like the debate we are having, but it is one that should have occurred in 2010 before 45 states’ executive branches adopted these standards without giving “we the people” a voice through our elected representatives.  Education policy will be, like it or not, shaped in the political realm because we live in a constitutional republic.  Bureaucrats and Governors alone can not make these decisions for our nation’s children.

All the parents I know who are fighting Common Core are fighting for students, their students, and the fight has only begun.

Sincerely yours,

Shane Vander Hart

An Iowan who endorsed and supported you in 2008.

Update: Someone accused me of not doing my research, so here is the video.  His comments related to the Common Core came during the press Q&A.  Did he say some things I agree with?  As a former pastor I wholeheartedly agree with his comments about parents being the ones who are ultimately responsible for educating their kids.  I also agree (even though some of my friends in this fight would disagree) with his comments on school choice.  It is plain as you listen to the video that he defends the math and ELA standards.  I get what he is saying about other items that attached to Common Core.  I’ve written recently about that myself, but what he doesn’t seem to understand is that the math and ELA standards are bad, that the NGA invited federal involvement in the standards, and that federalism (It seems that he doesn’t believe in it anymore) does not support a top-down approach to education whether it is from the federal government or special interests.

#CPAC2014 Tweetfest #StopCommonCore Addition

CPACVia American Principles in Action’s

Join us TODAY and in coming days to flood CPAC and the political leaders who will be presenting to join the fight against Common Core. CPAC is one of the largest gatherings of American conservatives, so this is an IMPORTANT opportunity for us to get the truth out to conservatives about Common Core.

Please join us tomorrow, specifically during Bobby Jindal’s speech beginning at 12:00PM EST. There are additional speeches that we would love to have you participate in, but his is one of the most important.

WHO: You, and please pass on to anyone with a Twitter or Facebook
WHEN: THURSDAY MARCH 5th, 12PM and following

Times and draft tweets are below. Please use the draft tweets, but feel free to create your own. We want to make sure that there is alot of buzz going around regarding the Common Core during CPAC.

And be sure to use CPAC’s official hashtag — #CPAC2014 for ALL TWEETS.

Thank you for your help and participation.

Emmett McGroarty, Shane Vander Hart, Terry Schilling, and Kate Bryan
American Principles in Action

TAE Note – please also tweet for TODAY: Be sure to check out the #StopCommonCore forum at #CPAC2014 w/ @lindseymburke & @JimStergios 3:30p Potomac 3&4


Bobby Jindal speaks at 12:00p on Thursday

@BobbyJindal Louisiana parents need you to act, please #StopCommonCore in your state! #CPAC2014
@BobbyJindal Be a voice for your citizens, please #StopCommonCore in your state! #CPAC2014

@BobbyJindal Protect America’s children. #StopCommonCore in Louisiana. #CPAC2014

Additional times and tweets for CPAC

Ted Cruz – speaking at 9:00a Thursday –
Thank you @tedcruz for joining @ChuckGrassley in working to #StopCommonCore Fed Funding. #CPAC2014

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) speaking at 11:00a Thursday –
@ChrisChristie if you want to promote STEM you need #StopCommonCore Algebra II isn’t enough. #CPAC2014

Bobby Jindal speaks at 12:00p on Thursday –
@BobbyJindal Louisiana parents need you to act, please #StopCommonCore in your state! #CPAC2014

Sen. Marco Rubio is speaking at 12:16p on Thursday –
@marcorubio thank you for your support of #StopCommonCore #CPAC2014
Thank you @marcorubio for protecting America’s children and our future. #StopCommonCore #CPAC2014

Gov. Rick Perry speaks on Friday at 9:00am EST –
@GovernorPerry rejected Race to the Top and has worked to #EndFedEd, be sure to thank him. #StopCommonCore #CPAC2014

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks on Friday at 10:21AM EST –
@GovMikeHuckabee has championed Common Core, tell him to #StopCommonCore not just the Fed’s involvement. #CPAC2014

Rick Santorum speaks on Friday at 2:26pm EST –
@RickSantorum please join the #StopCommonCore movement, our kids need your voice! #CPAC2014

Sen. Rand Paul speaks on Friday at 2:51pm EST –
@SenRandPaul thank you for lending your voice to #StopCommonCore! #CPAC2014

Ann Coulter – Saturday at 1:34pm EST –
@AnnCoulter please lend your voice to #StopCommonCore. #CPAC2014

State Senator Lee Zeldin – Saturday at 3:34pm EST –
State Sen. @leezeldin is speaking at #CPAC2014 Senator thanks for your #StopCommonCore bill (S 6604) in NY!

Sarah Palin – Saturday at 5:45pm EST –
@SarahPalinUSA rejected Race to the Top, Gov. Palin please join the #StopCommonCore movement! #CPAC2014

Dissecting Mike Huckabee's Statement on the Common Core


Mike Huckabee during the monologue on his weekend show on Fox News addressed the topic of the Common Core State Standards and his position on it.  I watched with interest and some hope as I heard from some of his supporters that he was coming around to our side.  I left disappointed.  Not to say everything he had to say was bad – there are some things within his statement with which those of fighting the Common Core can agree.  What I was most disappointed by was the way in which he framed the debate.  I think it further confuses the issue and does not help in advancing our attempt to root these standards out.

If I were to boil his statement down it would read: “I oppose what the Common Core has become, the Common Core as a brand is dead, but let’s keep the standards and the assessments.”

I wanted to provide an analysis of his statement below.

I don’t support what Common Core has become in many states or school districts.  I am dead set against the Federal government creating a uniform curriculum for any subject.  I oppose the collection of data on any student in order to identify them and then track them, and certainly any effort to give that information to the federal government.

The first red flag was that he doesn’t support “what Common Core has become” meaning he supported it in its original form.  This is an inadequate response because it doesn’t recognize problems inherent with the standards themselves regardless of what curriculum publishers and the Federal government has done.

I do appreciate the strong statement on data collection, but it is pretty easy to find consensus around that point.  Even so this statement ignores the fact that those involved working on the Common Core State Standards and its assessments planned it as a tool to collect student data.  This was during the development of the Common Core, not something that happened after the fact.  When the chief architect of the Common Core’s ELA standards lauded the use of student data it’s hard to say this wasn’t part of the Common Core.  Maybe that wasn’t what individual Governor’s had in mind, but it wasn’t Governors who wrote the standards to begin with.

I am steadfast in my belief that parents, parents should ultimately decide the best venue for their children’s education whether it is public schools, private schools, religious schools or homeschools.  I believe education is a local or state function, not a federal one.

Ok, agreed.  He needs to realize with the Common Core assessments that private schools and homeschools are being impacted.  Also some states have required non-public schools to adopt the Common Core if they had state accreditation, received vouchers, etc.  Homeschoolers are impacted in varying degrees based on the state they live.  They all will face an SAT and ACT college entrance exam that will eventually be aligned to the Common Core.  Also Huckabee didn’t seem to mind the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program.  He thought it was a “good idea.”  From his book, Simple Government, Huckabee wrote, “although I believe education should be left to the states, I fully endorse the new federal program Race to the Top, which has states compete for additional education funds, allowing them to decide what reforms to enact rather than having specific reforms imposed on them from above,” (pg. 100).

Race to the Top was a scheme by the Obama administration to further entrench the Federal government in education.  There was little, if any, public feedback given for this program.  No opportunity to debate it.  It was made possible by a $4.35 billion increase in discretionary money, an “executive earmark” so to speak, in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  You know the “stimulus” bill to create jobs.

So Race to the Top was designed as carrot and stick program, which Governor Huckabee thought was a good thing, “a clever way to prod states to embrace much needed reform,” to use his words.  So this program gave directives to states who were strapped for cash to adopt the Common Core Standards (I thought he was against federal standards?) and make other education policy changes just so they can be competitive for these grants.

To be clear here, under this grant scheme, even if a state’s application was perfect, it would be uncompetitive to receive funds without the adoption of the standards.  He bemoans federal involvement in the Common Core, but he lauded the very program that gave them a foothold.

Sadly the very label, Common Core, has come to be associated with things that I deter like agenda-driven curriculum that indoctrinates instead of educates.  I am convinced that the term Common Core needs to disappear from the lexicon of education policy.  It is a toxic term that has come to mean things that most of us can’t stomach – like top-down federal intervention into the schools where you live.

But Common Core as it was designed had nothing to do with the federal government.  It was conceived and controlled by elected governors and state school chiefs to keep federal hands from interfering with it.

And it only dealt with two subjects – math and English, in those two subjects only, established state-initiated standards in those subjects and intentionally didn’t build or suggest curriculum.

To be clear, the problem is not the label.  The agenda-driven curriculum is a byproduct of the Common Core, but it is not the primary problem.  There has always been agenda-driven curriculum.  What the Common Core has initiated however is a need for schools to purchase new curriculum that is “Common Core aligned.”  This was by design.

Bill Gates, the chief funder of the development of the Common Core State Standards said, “identifying common standards is not enough. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards… to create just these kinds of tests—next-generation assessments aligned to the common core. When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well—and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching.”

This was in 2009 folks.  This shouldn’t be unexpected.  In regards to Federal involvement, already covered that above.  It’s disingenuou
s to condemn federal involvement on one hand and give Race to the Tops props with the other.  The U.S. Department of Education has been involved in helping promote these standards since their inception so their involvement is nothing new either.

Also let’s be clear – governors and chief state school officers did not “conceive” the standards.  Trade associations and their staffs did.  Were governors involved?  Minimally.  I’m curious how many governors have actually read the standards.  Washington-based special interest groups developed the standards and corporate interests paid for it.

Regarding the subject matter that is mostly true, but the standards do have literacy standards for other subjects and there is suggested reading in the text exemplar for social studies and science.

It set voluntary goals, goals that were controllable by local school boards.  Unfortunately the locally controlled and simple creation of standards in math and English were created so students would be measured by comparable standards regardless of geography.

Local school boards control the standards?  That is patently untrue, at least in most states.  These standards have been mandated on local schools at the state level.  Measuring all students with comparable standards will do what exactly?  How will it improve student achievement exactly?

That has been hijacked by those who took the label Common Core and applied it to curriculum, subjects other than math and English and even unrelated things such as personal data collection.

Who hijacked these?  Curriculum alignment was by design.  Data collection was part of the over all package.

As a result Common Core as a brand is dead and hopefully the perversion of it will die as well.

This is larger than a branding issue, and again suggests standards as is are ok.  I agree the brand is dead, but we need more than a name change.

What I hope doesn’t die is setting higher standards for students.  Keeping score to see just how well they are doing, and having accountability for the results.

So essentially change nothing with the standards and assessments themselves.  Has Governor Huckabee seen what is going on in New York?  Sure this sounds great, but if you don’t want teachers teaching to the test then don’t link accountability, especially teacher evaluations, to assessments.

Education bureaucrats have long fought against assessments and sometimes have fought against accountability often being satisfied by underperforming students who are far behind their peers in other states and countries.

Education bureaucrats are the ones really pushing this – what is he talking about?  Regarding underperforming students who are behind their peers in other states, there are many reasons for this other than standards.  Regarding our place in the world there’s a lot of skepticism related to the use of PISA to determine this.

The Wall Street Journal reported just this week that schools in the U.S. were performing below those in Vietnam, Lithuania, Russia and Hungary.  Then our 15 year-olds haven’t seen improvement in over a decade compared to other nations.

Notice how individual states, like Massachusetts, who perform well compared to some of the top nations are never mentioned?  Christopher Tienken, assistant professor of education at Seton Hall University, pointed out that PISA (which is what Huckabee is referring to) is comparing apples and oranges. 

"In Singapore you won’t find a lot of students with special needs or second language learners in school by age 15, let alone in the testing population," Tienken notes.

"The testing populations are very, very selective in some of these countries," he added. "Now in America, we educate everybody. It’s part of our American exceptionalism and our commitment to liberty and justice for all. And so our testing pool includes all different kinds of students."

Tienken also pointed out how PISA doesn’t  assess creativity or innovation and can’t predict how a new generation will perform in the work force.

"We top the ranks in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship around the world," he said. "So there’s a negative correlation between how you score on PISA and your creativity and innovation."

For those who think I embrace Common Core I don’t embrace or even want to tolerate what it has become to mean in too many locations.  Yes its been hijacked and I don’t support the hijackers or the destination.  But I don’t blame the airplane for getting hijacked.

I just hope that we are not ready to accept mediocrity as a standard.  Let’s kill the name Common Core and all the nonsense that has been onto it, but let’s insist that if we continue to spend the most money in education that we demand that the end result is achievement.

Actually the plane was malfunctioning as well.  He uses Jeb Bush/Fordham talking point that if you are against Common Core you are in favor of mediocrity – nonsense.  I agree that we should expect more for our education dollars, but what defines achievement?  Scoring well on an assessment?

You see I think every Governor should take the wheel and then steer his or her state to adopt strict and rigorous standards.  I suggest what Governor Terry Branstad did in Iowa recraft it to a state-specific initiative.  Keep it simple, name it whatever you want to.  Don’t let anyone corrupt the goals by adding things that are not part of the goals.

Common Core is dead.  Common sense should not be.  That’s my view.

A couple of problems with this statement.  1. Does Governor Huckabee not believe in the separation of powers?  Regardless of federal involvement the Common Core represented executive overreach off the chain.  State legislatures should weigh in on standards, not just the executive branch of government.  We need checks and balances.  2. Governor Branstad’s executive order was window dressing that does very little.  Governor Branstad did not adopt new standards other than the Common Core Math and English, it’s simply been absorbed into the Iowa Core.  States can add up to 15% to the Common Core State Standards, but they can’t subtract or rewrite.  So if they remain in the Common Core State Standards Initiative then based on their agreement they do not have the ability to “recraft” the standards.

Yes Common Core is dead, but what Governor Huckabee lauds as common sense in this instance is anything but.

You can watch his remarks below: the latest video at

@GovMikeHuckabee Has Become a #StopCommonCore #EducateHuckabee Twitter Target

819px-Mike_Huckabee_by_Gage_Skidmore_2Former Governor Mike Huckabee is being targeted on Twitter due to his support of the Common Core State Standards.  The “Twitter Bomb” started at 11:00a (EDT) today and will go until Saturday when his show ends.  Those who organized this are asking those who participate to Tweet  @GovMikeHuckabee and put on Governor Huckabee’s Facebook page facts about the Common Core.

Dawn Wildman of Citizens United for Responsible Education (CURE) said in an email that they are doing this to make sure that Governor Huckabee gets the message about how grassroots activists feel about the Common Core, not “his crony political buddies like Jeb Bush.”

The hashtags they are encouraging you to use if you participate is #educatehuckabee, #stopcommoncore and #CURENat.  My two cents is to prioritize the #educatehuckabee and #stopcommoncore hashtags; tweets with more than two hashtags seemed to be shared less and they are longer.  Also try to keep your tweets shorter so they are easy to “RT.”

Here is the Twitter feed for the primary hashtag –  #educatehuckabee:

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+”://”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons (CC By 3.0)

Stanley Kurtz: Obama is Robbing Suburban Schools to Pay for Urban Schools

Stanley Kurtz, author of a new book entitled Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities was on the Mike Huckabee Show recently and addressed the issue of distributing education dollars  and the Common Core Curriculum.  You can listen to the interview here.

An excerpt:

Constitutionally and legally the federal government ought not to have a role controlling K through 12 schools.  That’s a matter for  the states and their respected localities.  In fact the Obama administration has managed to orchestrate the creation of a national curriculum.  This is an important fact that most Americans know nothing about.  More than 40 states – 45 or 46 states have signed on, largely sight unseen, to a national curriculum that is being crafted I’m sorry to say by some left-leaning allies of Obama.  It is going to dumb down standards and it is going to be very politically correct.  On top of that the allies of Obama who have created the curriculum have a plan to lever federal control of K through 12 education into redistribution of education funding from suburbs to the cities.

Be sure to listen to the entire interview.

For the Second Time Romney Embraces a Federal Role in Education

imageIt isn’t the first time.  Over the weekend, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney interviewed with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on his Fox News show “Huckabee.”  Governor Huckabee asked Governor Romney to discuss what, if any, positive things have come out of the Obama administration.  Romney answered, ““I also think that in the area of education, Secretary Arne Duncan is saying, ‘Look, let’s reward school systems that reward teachers for doing a good job, that remove bad teachers, that test kids to see how the kids are doing.’  That, I think, is a positive thing.  By the way, not everything that Arne Duncan is doing do I agree with.  So, for instance, this national core curriculum they are pushing and trying to get states to take that on.  I don’t like a national curriculum.  I like states to be able to draft their own curriculum.”

I’m glad that Romney is in disagreement with the common core state standards, though I’d even prefer states not involve themselves in such matters.  The more local the better.  However, he affirmed, like he did in an interview with Neil Cavuto back in 2010 that there should be a federal role.  So can we expect continued federal government overreach and largess under a Romney administration, albeit a little smaller?

We definitely see a pattern here as this is the second time that Governor Romney has expressed such a sentiment.  He clearly believes there should be a federal role.

Emmett McGroarty, the executive director for the Preserve Innocence Initiative of American Principles in Action agreed with Romney that accountability for schools is good, but his statement raises a different question.  “Accountability is good, but the question is:  Accountability to whom? Should teachers and schools be accountable to the federal government, which is the goal of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind and President Obama’s Race to the Top programs, or should they be accountable to parents?”

I say parents.  The federal government has no constitutional role in education.  It’s disappointing that Governor Romney doesn’t quite fully grasp that.

Originally posted at Caffeinated Thoughts