The Common Core Report Card: Rand Paul Gets an A-

In our Common Core report card, we graded Rand Paul 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 Rand Paul do?

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

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: 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in the Common Core testing consortium and preventing USED from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core.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. In a fundraising email entitled, “Rotten to the core,” Paul condemned the Common Core Standards as “anti-American propaganda, revisionist history that ignores the faith of our Founders and data-tracking of students from kindergarten on.” The email further called out Bush, Huckabee, Walker, and Christie as “prominent backers” of the standards.

On several occasions on the stump, Paul has advocated for unwinding USED. In Milford, New Hampshire, he stated:

For a long time in the Republican Party, there’s been a division—the conservatives have always felt like, we don’t want much control of education, very little if any at the federal level. We think education is a state and local issue. But this battle has been fought for several decades now. When Ronald Reagan won in 1980, it became part of the platform that we were actually opposed to the Department of Education. I still am. I think it ought to go back to the states.

Paul allowed Sen. Lamar Alexander’s S.1177 to sail through committee on unanimous consent. However, leading up to the floor vote on the bill, he authored a strong-op-ed against the bill. He ultimately voted against the bill’s passage. He also voted in favor of proposed S.AMDT 2180, Sen. Cruz’s proposal to return accountability to the states. Paul also introduced an amendment (which did not receive a vote) to recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of standardized tests, and co-sponsored Sen. Lee’s amendment (S.AMDT 2162) addressing that issue.

Because of his well-articulated alarm about privacy threats, Paul should become a more prominent champion of student privacy. With respect to the federal executive he has, on other issues, offered bills and amendments that give federal legislators a cause of action to curtail unauthorized federal action. Here, it would be welcomed if he would propose similar legislation to protect states and their citizens.

Paul’s website is among the more detailed overall. We encourage Sen. Paul to add more content on the Common Core issues, to raise the issue more often, and to speak in more detail about his policy solutions. His remarks would be well-received by the Republican base.

Emmett McGroarty is the executive director of APIA Education.