The Common Core Report Card: Rick Santorum Gets a B

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

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

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: 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.

From its beginning, the Common Core State Standards initiative has flown under the radar. Its funding, its implementation, and the substance of the standards it proposes have received little public attention, but all of them are wrong for families, wrong for students, and wrong for our teachers.

This relates to voters that, with or without the federal government’s involvement, Santorum understands the adoption of Common Core was still a bad decision due to its poor quality.

Notably, long before it was fashionable to do so, Santorum publicly acknowledged that the Common Core is an attempt to nationalize the curriculum early on in its implementation during a speech in 2012 at the Republican National Convention in Tampa:

A solid education should be the second rung on the ladder to success, but the system is failing. President Obama’s solution has been to deny parents choice, attack private schools and nationalize curriculum and student loans.

Rick Santorum has been advocating for a “parents’ revolution” in education. He has also stated that, as president, he would sign a bill that would repeal the Common Core. While speaking to a group of state legislators, Santorum stated:

Finally on education, I said that we don’t need Common Core. I don’t know of any teacher in America who thinks that the reason we have drop out rates of 50% in our worst schools is because of education standards. Education standards is not the problem in the schools that are failing. The problem is that we do not have parents who are engaged with the education enterprise in their home and in schools.

I am as tough on public education as anybody, but I am sick and tired of the scapegoating of teachers and administrators as if it is their problem, and they’re the only reason schools are failing. That is not true. We all have to take and shoulder that responsibility. We need to have an honest discussion about a revolution in education and the last thing that we need is elites in our culture telling us what should be taught in our schools. What we need are parents to be fully engaged in that area, in every aspect, and begin to not just engage them, but talk about the importance of them for their children’s future and America’s future.

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.

We encourage Santorum to elaborate on what he would do as president to rein in the federal government and to raise the Common Core issues more robustly and frequently in his speeches and remarks.

Emmett McGroarty is the executive director of APIA Education.