“Common Core, the set of education standards that were adopted by 46 states five years ago but have since become toxic with the conservative base, has not been at the center of the Republican primary debate, which has so far been dominated by national security and immigration,” according to an article in The Hill just a few weeks ago. How quickly things change.
In the final four weeks before the voting begins, Senator Marco Rubio is making opposition to Common Core a key part of his final pitch. The pro-Rubio super PAC Conservative Solutions features it in a new television ad: “One high-tax, Common Core, liberal-energy-loving, Obamacare Medicaid-expanding president is enough,” the voiceover says.
And in Cedar Rapids a few days ago, Rubio brought Common Core up again: “This country cannot afford a president that’s not going to reverse the direction Barack Obama’s taken our country. We can’t have another president that supports Common Core or gun control or expanding Obamacare.”
It’s a smart move for Rubio, first and foremost because Common Core is an issue that deeply moves voters, especially important in a caucus state such as Iowa. Second, it distinguishes Rubio from Chris Christie, who was an early supporter of Common Core but who has changed his position to oppose it more recently, at least in part.
Common Core is a policy failure as well. The state of Kentucky has been implementing Common Core for four years, the longest of any state, and certainly long enough that one would expect to see some positive results. Instead, Ed Week reports, the proportion of Kentucky elementary and middle-school students who are proficient in reading and math dropped by one-third.
Senator Rubio has promised to reverse any executive order promoting Common Core that President Obama has signed. But here’s the problem: There is a big disconnect between what GOP presidential candidates are saying and what the GOP Congress is doing about Common Core.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.