The Common Core Report Card: Rick Santorum Gets a B

In our Common Core report card, we graded Rick Santorum 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 Rick Santorum do?

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

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: B

Santorum’s website addresses the problem of Common Core in terms of both federal overreach and the substance of the standards. While many other candidates do the former, few address the latter.

From its beginning, the Common Core State Standards initiative has flown under the radar. Its funding, its implementation, and the substance of the standards it proposes have received little public attention, but all of them are wrong for families, wrong for students, and wrong for our teachers.

This relates to voters that, with or without the federal government’s involvement, Santorum understands the adoption of Common Core was still a bad decision due to its poor quality.

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The Common Core Report Card: Lindsey Graham Gets a B

In our Common Core report card, we graded Lindsey Graham 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 Lindsey Graham do?

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

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (photo credit: iprimages via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Overall Grade: B

Graham seems to understand the issues with Common Core today, but it is unfortunate this opposition did not come sooner. He missed an early opportunity to strike at the Common Core in 2013 by not co-signing a letter penned by Senator Chuck Grassley to the chair and vice-chair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education that called for language to prohibit the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, end the federal government’s involvement in the Common Core testing consortium, and prevent the United States Department of Education from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core.

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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)

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.

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The Common Core Report Card: Rand Paul Gets an A-

In our Common Core report card, we graded Rand Paul 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 Rand Paul do?

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

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: A-

Sen. Rand Paul 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 called for language to be included prohibiting the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, ending the federal government’s involvement in the Common Core testing consortium and preventing USED from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core. Sens. Paul and Cruz are the only senatorial candidates for president who co-signed Grassley’s letter.

Paul has paid more attention to the Common Core issue than most other candidates and has spoken forcefully against it.

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House Republicans Betray Common Core Moms

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (Photo credit: Peter Stevens via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

The Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has worked a tremendous disservice on its members and the American children, parents, and taxpayers.  Yesterday, after heavy wrangling by Republican leadership, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5, the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

By failing to eliminate or even curb the federal testing mandates, the bill instead serves the testing industry rather than the people.  Under NCLB, that industry has grown to a $2 billion per year enterprise. As reported by PR Watch:

School testing corporations have spent at least $20 million on lobbying along with wining and dining—or even hiring—policymakers in pursuit of big revenues from federal and state testing mandates under “No Child Left Behind” measures and the Common Core curriculum, according to new analysis detailed in this Reporters’ Guide by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

Sadly, standardized tests provide very little instructional value, take up an enormous amount of true instructional time, and cost the states enormous amounts of money.

Furthermore, H.R. 5 amounts to an assault on child privacy interests.  It removes protection against socio-emotional profiling in the statewide assessments (eliminating NCLB’s prohibition against including assessment items that “evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes”). Not only does it fail to protect against psychological data-gathering, it actually dictates the type of Brave New World assessments that operate by compiling and analyzing psychological profiles on children.   Continue Reading

GOP Senate Fails to Protect Schoolkids from Big Brother

Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0 BR)

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are considering legislation to reauthorize No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the major federal K-12 education law.  The House and Senate leadership are intent on ramming through a reauthorization of NCLB.  They want to claim that they fixed the problems with the original bill.  However, these bills are horrible.  Here are just a few of the problems:

  • They continue the federal testing mandates telling the states in what grades and in what subjects children must be subjected to standardized tests (assessments). Such mandates create the teaching-to-the test pressure on teachers.  Furthermore, they do not have instructional value, deprive students of enormous instructional time, and cost the states a huge amount of money.
  • They dictate particular types of testing that are extraordinarily expensive, have a history of failure, and are designed to inject more intrusive psychological data-collection and psychological profiling/manipulation into the standardized tests.
  • They maintain NCLB’s requirement that the state assessments produce not just test scores, but “individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports.” Moreover, unlike NCLB, the bills require assessment on behavioral/skills-based standards rather than truly academic standards. The data produced under this language could resemble a psychological profile of the student.
  • They remove protection against socio-emotional profiling in the statewide assessments (eliminating NCLB’s prohibition against including assessment items that “evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes”) and fail to protect against other psychological data-gathering in other federal education programs.

The House and Senate leadership assure their members and the American people that the bill has language prohibiting federal intrusion into state and local decision-making.  Continue Reading

Will Republicans Carry Obama’s Water on Common Core?

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) (photo credit: AMSF2011 via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

The most far-reaching federal education law—No Child Left Behind (NCLB)—has been up for reauthorization for eight years.  Now, with the Obama Administration waning, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is in a rush to get the President a bill that he will sign.

Earlier this year, when the first version of his bill did not garner the necessary support, Sen. Alexander went back to the drawing board.  And he reached across the aisle to Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to help re-draft the bill.

There’s a lot wrong with his bill.

Overall, the bill retains the master-servant relationship by which the federal government lords over the states, local communities, and parents.  It requires states to submit education plans to the Feds and gives the Feds enormous authority to approve them. It retains federal testing mandates that tell the states when, and in what subjects, children must take standardized tests.  It does so even though those tests exist primarily for bureaucratic reporting, are extremely expensive, have virtually no instructional value, and deprive children of enormous learning time.  And, to slap down the rising tidal wave of parents withdrawing their children from such testing, the bill requires states to demonstrate how they will ensure that 95 percent of children actually take the test.

The bill maintains NCLB’s requirement that the state standardized tests produce not just test scores but “individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports.” Unlike NCLB, Sen. Alexander’s bill requires assessment on behavioral/skills-based standards rather than truly academic standards. Continue Reading

NCLB Rewrite Fails Again

Photo credit: Alberto G. via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

An op-ed from APIA Senior Fellow Jane Robbins and Ohio mom activist Heidi Huber in Townhall.com:

Parents across the nation are in open revolt against the testing mania that has seized public schools under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Common Core national standards. In some states, thousands of students — 200,000 in New York alone — are refusing the “mandatory” assessments. One would think the Washington politicos who are writing the NCLB reauthorization bill would take note of this widespread rebellion and would ease — or better still, eliminate — the federal testing requirements. But unlike the repentant thief who returns the loot, the federal government never willingly relinquishes power it has stolen from the states.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are collaborating on an NCLB rewrite dubbed the “Every Child Achieves Act” (ECAA). This bill maintains NCLB’s requirement of administering annual assessments in English and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. But ECAA doesn’t ignore the “opt out” movement – in fact, it adds language that effectively encourages the states to lower the boom on noncompliant students and parents.

[…]

During recent debate on ECAA, an amendment was added that nominally protects the right to opt out of assessments: “Nothing in this part shall be construed as preempting a State or local law regarding the decision of a parent or guardian to not have the parent or guardian’s child participate” in the federally mandated assessments.

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Fiorina Campaign Explains Past Support for Race to the Top, NCLB

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina’s presidential campaign explained her past support for Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind today.  Sarah Isgur Flores, Fiorina’s communications direct, sent Caffeinated Thoughts the following email:

Carly does not support Common Core. As she has said, there is absolutely no evidence that the work of a big, centralized bureaucracy in Washington makes things better. In fact, there’s loads of evidence to the contrary. The Department of Education has been growing in size and budget for 40 years and the quality of our education continues to deteriorate.

Carly has always believed that choice and accountability are necessary to fix our education system. We can do that by having great teachers and by giving these teachers the ability and flexibility to teach the things that our kids need: risk-taking, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Her support for state-based accountability measures in 2010 was about implementing education reforms that encouraged more accountability and transparency at the state level. Common Core, which wasn’t implemented in California until this past fall, has been a set of standards created in DC and driven by the education-industrial complex seeking to commercialize our students. Frankly, the two aren’t even close to the same thing. Carly favors state driven accountability, which she did in 2010 and she does now. That is emphatically not what common core has been or become.

At the time that Race to the Top was proposed in 2009 and when Carly supported it in 2010, it was a funding program based on real performance metrics and opposed by the teachers’ unions.

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Was Fiorina For Common Core Before She Was Against It?

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (photo credit: Peter Stevens via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

In the last few months, Carly Fiorina has steadily attempted to stake out a position as a unique conservative voice within the Republican field.  This effort has included drawing a contrast between herself and other candidates, such as Jeb Bush, whom she has chided for his support of Common Core on more than one occasion.  On education policy, she has also been critical of the “heavy-handed” methods of “federal bureaucracies,” implying she would support a more decentralized, states-oriented approach.

However, what has seemingly been overlooked is that Fiorina has not always been so skeptical of federal education programs.  As Alyson Klein at Education Week points out, during Fiorina’s 2010 run for U.S. Senate in California, she apparently supported the very programs which helped give us Common Core to begin with.

A one-page education policy brief still available on her Senate campaign website provides the incriminating evidence.  For example, the Fiorina campaign lauded the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program as “put[ting] into place some critically important accountability measures” and “help[ing] improve our education system,” although we now know it in fact used federal funding to encourage states to adopt the Common Core standards.  Under this heading, she also praised the affiliated “internationally benchmarked standards and assessments” (we can only guess what these were) as well as “robust data systems” which have now come under heavy criticism for infringement on student privacy.

Further on in the brief, we also find that Fiorina thought “No Child Left Behind helped us set a high bar for our students…”  Unfortunately, it was poorly designed accountability standards in NCLB which allowed the federal government to coerce states into adopting the Common Core in exchange for the granting of waivers from the requirements. Continue Reading