The Common Core Report Card: Lindsey Graham Gets a B

In our Common Core report card, we graded Lindsey Graham and all of the GOP candidates based on the three following criteria: fighting the Common Core, protecting state and local decision-making on education, and defending child and family privacy. Then we averaged the three grades together for one final grade.

What does each grade mean?

A … Champions the issue, e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue.
… 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.

So how did Lindsey Graham do?

Ending the Common Core System: B+
Protecting State and Local Decision Making: B+
Protecting Child and Family Privacy: C+

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (photo credit: iprimages via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (photo credit: iprimages via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Overall Grade: 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and prevent the United States Department of Education from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core.

In a press release from February 5th, 2014, Graham stated:

The Obama Administration has effectively bribed and coerced states into adopting Common Core. Blanket education standards should not be a prerequisite for federal funding. In order to have a competitive application for some federal grants and flexibility waivers, states have to adopt Common Core. This is simply not the way the Obama Administration should be handling education policy. Our resolution affirms that education belongs in the hands of our parents, local officials and states.

Graham also introduced SR 345, which condemned the usage of incentives, including waivers, to incentivize states to adopt the Common Core or any other national education policies.

Sen. Graham actively opposed the Common Core last year in the Senate. He would do well to flesh out what he would do as president to rein in the federal government and to protect state decision-making.

Sen. Graham’s campaign website states:

We need to put education back where it belongs – in the hands of parents, local school districts, and the states. Blanket standards should not be a prerequisite for federal funding. The federal government should not coerce states into adopting Common Core and its top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to education. We need to restore and protect state authority and flexibility in establishing and defining rigorous student academic standards and assessments.

Senator Graham should flesh out his views. Does he have a plan to address the root problems of federal intrusion? Does he recognize a nexus between Common Core’s poor quality and federal involvement?

Sen. Graham did not cast a vote on Sen. Lamar Alexander’s S.1177, (the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind). Nor did he cast a vote on proposed S.AMDT 2180, Sen. Cruz’s proposal to return accountability to the states, or on S.AMDT 2162, Sen. Lee’s amendment addressing the right of parents to opt their children out of standardized tests. His office stated that he was not in town that day.

Emmett McGroarty is the executive director of APIA Education.