Voters Want Fighters, Not Appeasers, on Common Core

From left: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
From left: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Heidi Huber — founder of Parents Against the Common Core and Ohioans Against Common Core — is running for the Ohio House of Representatives. In a dramatic showdown, she is challenging incumbent Rep. Tom Brinkman (27thDistrict), whom she originally helped elect, for reneging on his campaign promise to fight for the repeal of Common Core.

In a recent interview for the Cincinnati Examiner, Brinkman dismissed Huber’s complaints, “Huber doesn’t understand how things work in Columbus and killing Common Core isn’t an overnight process.” Brinkman argues that he has done everything he can to stop Common Core, including authoring a bill to repeal it.

However, those fighting Common Core understand that simply authoring legislation to repeal it will not get the job done. As Huber stated to the Cincinnati Examiner, “There’s more to it than slapping your name on [a bill].” Common Core opponents across the country couldn’t agree more.

Fellow Common Core warrior, Heather Crossin of Hoosiers Against Common Core, supports Huber’s criticism of Brinkman: “It takes more than a promise and a half-hearted effort to get legislation passed to repeal the Common Core. It takes real leadership and dedication, which Brinkman apparently doesn’t have.”

Authoring a bill but failing to back it with a fight is the greatest betrayal by a politician. To promise to stand at the battle line and lead the fight — to be the hero in the legislature — creates dependency in a movement. To then merely offer a bill without putting an all-out legislative and public effort behind the bill amounts to a betrayal. To do this renders a politician unfit for any and all offices.

Brinkman joins a long list of short-sighted politicians whose strong rhetoric about repealing Common Core ended once in office. Instead of ending Common Core, they do one of three things: nothing, offer legislation and then willingly let it die, or trick their constituents by passing phony legislation that keeps the Common Core intact.

Governor Charlie Baker (R-Mass.) is in the do-nothing camp. He ran for office on the promise of ending Common Core but has failed to take any meaningful steps to accomplishing this goal. After the people rose up and took the matter into their own hands and successfully collected 80,000 signatures to put it on the ballot in the 2016 fall election, Baker remains unwilling to publicly endorse the measure. In fact, he seems firmly committed to doing nothing — mark him down for a zero.

For his part, Rep. Brinkman authored legislation to repeal Common Core, but he doesn’t have the will to navigate it to passage. He cited a possible veto of the bill by Governor John Kasich — who supports the standards — as too great a barrier to getting it passed, so why bother? Brinkman’s lack of action, however, was a missed opportunity to put a bill on Gov. Kasich’s desk and force his hand on the issue of Common Core. Does Kasich support Common Core enough to be the first governor to veto such legislation and to do so in the midst of a presidential run? Would he risk winding up like Gov. Jeb Bush, whose support for Common Core brought down his campaign? Probably not, but Ohioans will never know due to Brinkman’s refusal to champion the bill.

Governor Scott Walker claims he “ended Common Core” by letting local school districts choose their own standards, but he left the Common Core state-wide assessment in place, an assessment to which federal law requires standards to be aligned. The only “choice” of standards was the Common Core, which, not surprisingly, is still being taught in Wisconsin schools. Governors Chris Christie in New Jersey and Mike Pence in Indiana also tried to fool the people into believing they “repealed” Common Core when they did no such thing. Anyone seeing a pattern here?

Voters do not like to be lied to, and they do not like to be betrayed. They want fighters, not appeasers. Through his low-energy, nominal efforts, Rep. Brinkman has put himself firmly in the company of Baker, Christie, and Pence.  Does he not understand that such cowardly and farcical dithering is at the root of citizen outrage?  Does he not understand that it is at the heart of the citizen-driven political upheaval that is now dominating American politics?

UPDATE: We have received information and have confirmed that Rep. Brinkman has not authored any pieces of legislation regarding Common Core, including the bill referenced above; rather, his opponent Heidi Huber has authored all legislative efforts since 2013.

Erin Tuttle is a co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core and a contributor to Parents Against the Common Core.