Former Obama Administration Aide Boasts GOP-Passed Bill (ESSA) Cements Common Core

Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Breitbart reports that another voice from the Left has entered the conversation about the recently rammed-through Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This time, the commentary comes from Peter Cunningham, former U.S. Department of Education (USED) Assistant Secretary for Communications. Cunningham confirms what recent Education Secretary Arne Duncan said about ESSA — that the messaging from bill’s primary author, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is, shall we say, misleading when he claims that ESSA eliminates the federal mandate for the Common Core national standards.

According to Cunningham, “[T]he new law that the senator from Tennessee is so proud of . . . now mandates the very thing he rails against.” Cunningham explains: “Under the new law, every state must adopt ‘college- and career-ready’ standards. Thus, the new law all but guarantees that Common Core State Standards – or a reasonable imitation under a different name – will likely remain in place in most states.”

Of course. This is what the national anti-Common Core grassroots movement tried to tell Republican members of Congress for months before they voted on ESSA (without having analyzed or even read it, because the Republican leadership didn’t allow time for that).

And if these hundreds of activist groups could read ESSA and see that it essentially cements Common Core, one would expect Alexander — a former Education Secretary fluent in edu-speak code language — to realize that as well. Did Alexander mischaracterize his bill to fool congressmen into passing it? Or was he simply negligent as to the bill’s contents?

Either way the results are the same: ESSA advances the centralization of education and puts the country one step closer to national standards — something for which Alexander is a longtime proponent. Shameful.

Jane Robbins is an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principles Project.