Scott Walker’s Common Core Problem Just Got Bigger

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Everyone knows that Jeb Bush has a Common Core problem.  But I didn’t know about Scott Walker’s until Breitbart News took an in-depth look:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has a history of shifting his stated positions on the controversial Common Core standards and inviting the federal government into his state’s education policy plans. Experts say his current position, of allowing school districts to “opt-out” of Common Core, would not rid his state of the nationalized initiative, an outcome that may ultimately tie into Walker’s commitment to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “workforce development” program.

So writes Dr. Susan Berry in a March 22 story. While it was Walker’s predecessor who brought Common Core to Wisconsin in June 2010, throughout his first term Walker supported the Common Core and endorsed budgets that funded their implementation.

Walker’s case was probably not helped when a fellow Wisconsonite named Kirsten Lombard wrote a timeline critical of his involvement that began in September of 2013, when Walker voiced support generally for local standards:

Wisconsin Reporter had indicated that, following its question to Walker about his views on Common Core, the governor responded: “[I]n the larger context I’d like us to be in the position where we can identify our own unique standards that I think in many ways will be higher and more aggressive than the ones they’re talking about.”

However in 2013, Walker did nothing to interrupt the adoption of Common Core, not even pushing through a bill protecting the privacy of student data. Common Core critics in Wisconsin point out that the governor went mostly silent on the standards as they pushed for effective legislation to halt the juggernaut in their children’s classrooms. Walker instead suggest an “opt-out” policy for school districts, while pushing a bill holding schools accountable for essentially meeting the Common Core standards, using the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced (SBAC) assessments as the main measure of accountability, which Lombard writes “only further entrenches Common Core in Wisconsin, ensuring that local school districts will have difficulty switching to a different standard even once full implementation of Common Core starts to go wrong.”

Berry goes on to quote a former senior policy adviser with the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush, Ze’ev Wurman, who called Walker’s claim that local school districts can opt out of standards “disingenuous”:

Many states make state standards advisory in nature, allowing local school board a semblance of autonomy. What is almost never advisory, however, is the state test. In fact, for most states, the state test is always mandatory, which makes Walker’s argument that his proposal “ensures locally-approved standards set at the local level by local administrators, educators, and parents,” disingenuous.

“In other words, Walker’s response is true but misleading,” Wurman added.

APP’s own fearless Emmett McGroarty, the chief strategist and mentor to the growing army of Common Core moms, explained to Breitbart News how deeply unacceptable Walker’s current position is:

“Common Core activists expect a governor to put the full force of his office behind legislation to get rid of Common Core and reclaim the legislature’s control of education policy-making,” Emmett McGroarty, education director at the American Principles Project (APP), tells Breitbart News. “And they are looking for someone who understands that the Common Core locks children into an inferior education.”

“So far, Governor Walker has failed to push through legislation and, by all appearances, has failed to even fight for the cause,” McGroarty added. “Common Core activists in Wisconsin, Iowa, and across the country are politically astute. They will hold the governor accountable if he betrays them and fails to back his words with action.”

The article goes on to suggest Walker’s failure to truly fight the Common Core may be rooted in his commitment to Chamber of Commerce educational values over parents’ values and American constitutional ideals of citizenship.

Go read the full story at Breitbart News.  It is hard to run for the GOP nomination from a blue state, even when you have been as brave at fighting bad unions as Walker.  How Walker responds to this investigative journalism may well be a turning point in his young, not-yet-official campaign.

Maggie Gallagher is the editor of ThePulse2016.com.