How a GOP Congress Quietly Imposed Common Core on the Entire Country

Photo credit: Michael Bentley via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

After a long absence, education policy has reclaimed a prominent role in the national and state campaign discourse.   What’s more, parents — not a particular party or candidate — are driving the debate. For their part, the GOP presidential candidates are struggling to grasp what’s going on. Apparently, understanding that numerous governors and ex-governors (e.g., Mike Pence, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush) doomed their presidential aspirations by failing to push back against Common Core and the federal government, these candidates now routinely denounce Common Core in their stump speeches. But do they really understand how federal law continues to promote Common Core? Do they understand the fight?

As we’ve reported, just-resigned Secretary of Education Arne Duncan went public after the passage of the mammoth Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to crow about how he and the Obama administration got everything they wanted by conspiring with Republican leadership. (See here and here to find out how your House member and senators voted on ESSA.) Duncan especially lauded the federal mandate for “high standards,” which is federal/progressive code for Common Core.

But doesn’t ESSA, as all the bamboozled congressmen insist, bar the Secretary from mandating Common Core? True, some provisions purport to do that. But as Duncan chuckled in a separate interview, those provisions are merely “surface-y soundbites” rather than substantive restrictions on federal power.

Within the other 1,060 pages of ESSA lurk the provisions that will put downward pressure on states to keep Common Core, or something that looks very much like Common Core. Continue Reading

Obama Administration Reveals GOP Leaders’ Betrayal on Common Core in Ed Bill

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (photo credit: Center for American Progress via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Anti-Common Core activists tried for months to warn Congress that the new federal education bill (the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA) was a disaster that would cement, not overturn, the odious progressive-education philosophies of the Obama Administration. Except for 64 House members (click here to see how your member voted) and 12 senators (click here to see how your senators voted) who were brave enough to buck Republican leadership, their warnings were dismissed. Now comes confirmation that the activists were dead on — and that Republican leadership, including Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. John Kline, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, carried out a cynical scheme to betray their constituents and give the Administration everything it wanted.

This confirmation comes from someone who should know — Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

In a just-released interview with Politico Pro, Duncan expressed joyful incredulity at how wonderful ESSA turned out to be from the Administration’s point of view (meaning, how bad it is for children, families, and the Constitution). “I’m stunned,” he said, “at how much better it ended up than either [House or Senate] bill going into conference. I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it.”

What’s so good about ESSA, according to Duncan? “[I]f you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in the law are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. Continue Reading