The Common Core Report Card: Rick Perry Gets a B

In our Common Core report card, we graded Rick Perry 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 Rick Perry do?

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

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: 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. As far back as 2010, Perry refused to participate in the Race to the Top stampede, stating:

[W]e would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education. If Washington were truly concerned about funding education with solutions that match local challenges, they would make the money available to states with no strings attached.

While running for President in 2012, Perry advocated for closing USED. On the stump this cycle, Perry has continued his opposition to the Common Core and federalized education. At the New England Council’s “Politics and Eggs” event on March 12, 2015, Perry told those in attendance:

I’m pretty simple about the K-12 as a potential candidate for the United States. That needs to be left up to the States. I don’t think there is much of a role at all for the federal government. I think your governor, your legislature working with your school administrators, your teachers, and your parents—substantially better place for curriculum to be developed, than a one-size-fits-all out of Washington, DC. If the Department of Education needs to be a repository of good practices, that might be a good final state for it. But I don’t think that Washington needs to be this one-size-fits-all, this place where our healthcare, where our transportation infrastructure, where education reform needs to come from.

Louis Brandeis, who is not exactly a well-known conservative, former member of the US Supreme Court, said that the states were laboratories of democracy. That states needed to experiment and try different ideas out there. From time to time they’re going to foul up. I will suggest to you, from my perspective, Colorado is making an error in legalizing marijuana, but it’s exactly what Louis Brandeis said. I don’t agree with it, but I respect their right to find out they’re making a mistake. And the same is true about education policy. I just think that people closer to the schools, closer to your state, closer to understanding what the people of New Hampshire are all about: you’ll come up with the best curriculum, you’ll find the ways to educate your children substantially better than this one-size-fits-all that all too often comes out of Washington, DC.

Perry has been solid on the Common Core issue from the beginning.

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.”

We hope that he regrets his decision on HB 2103 and dedicates his efforts to reforming federal law so that it actually protects the rights of students and families. We would like to hear him state what he would do to protect state decision-making.

Emmett McGroarty is the executive director of APIA Education.