The Common Core Report Card: Ted Cruz Gets an A-

In our Common Core report card, we graded Ted Cruz 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 Ted Cruz do?

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

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: A-

Sen. Ted Cruz is one of the two senatorial candidates for president (the other being Rand Paul) who 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 calling for a prohibition on the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, to end the federal involvement in the Common Core testing consortium, and to prohibit USED from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core.

On the stump, Cruz has consistently called for the “repeal” of the Common Core Standards and for the return of educational control to the state and to the local level. This exchange occurred on a recent airing of The Kelly File on Fox News:

Cruz: I do, I think we should repeal every single word of Common Core. The reason is I think education is far more important for it to be governed by unelected bureaucrats in Washington. It should be at the state level or better the local level . . .

Kelly: But it is. The response to that is that governors got together to push this through.

Cruz: But Megyn, that’s not how it works. The Obama administration had used money, federal money, to force states to adopt Common Core standards.

Kelly: But can’t they bail out if they don’t want to be a part of it?

Cruz: Well sure they can, but there are a lot of dollars connected to it. The federal government, it’s sort of like the drug dealer that goes to junior high and gets the kid hooked saying ‘just try it once.’ The federal government has offered the states these dollars and there’s so many strings attached.

Cruz seems to understand the issue better than some, and he says the right things. He would do well to elevate the issue in his comments. Cruz, like all candidates, should mention the qualitative problems with the Common Core and should set forth their solutions to the federal command-and-control mechanisms that intrude on state and local decision-making. The candidate who does this would signal an understanding of the issues and would win the confidence of the people.

His proposed S.AMDT 2180 to the NCLB reauthorization was a great step forward for reining in the federal government, as it would have significantly returned accountability to the states. It gained an impressive 40 votes, but failed to pass. It is the kind of inspired and courageous leadership desperately sought by activist mothers and fathers.

Sen. Cruz voted against S.1177, the No Child Left Behind Reauthorization introduced by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA). He also voted in favor of S.AMDT 2162, introduced by Sen. Lee (R-UT), which addressed the right of parents to opt their children out of standardized tests.

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.

Emmett McGroarty is the executive director of APIA Education.