Common Core and The Midterms – What’s the Lesson
Lindsey Burke at the National Review said Common Core opposition was a winning issue with the midterm elections.
Sorry, Common Core. Last night just wasn’t your night. Voters resoundingly sided with candidates who rejected Common Core national standards and tests and promised to restore state and local control of education.
Candidates for the top state education position in Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia, and Wyoming, all campaigned on the idea of rejecting top down education mandates and returning to local control of education.
It was a winning position here in Missouri as well. Numerous candidates like, Senate candidate Paul Wieland, capitalized on it in their campaigns and it resonated with the voters.
They understand that the voters are unhappy about common core. The reasons for that dissatisfaction are as varied as the voters themselves. Some don’t like the way the new curriculum are affecting their children’s performance and interest in school. Some don’t like the intense focus on and cost of testing. Some don’t like the federal involvement in their adoption and the way that state legislatures were circumvented.
Many candidates, oops now newly elected office holders, understand further the illegal role of the federal government in pushing this privately developed initiative. Some even understand that the test consortia will force school districts to use common core aligned curriculum, even if the state doesn’t have common core standards officially adopted. Far fewer understand the link between the common standards and the state longitudinal databases found in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and No Child Left Behind Waiver Applications. Even fewer understand the fiscal impact of noncompliance, that there is very little enforcement written into NCLB that should keep the state complying with the federal push of common core.
This point needs to be hammered on while the iron is hot. Fear of losing federal funds is what keeps most state legislators from wanting to do too much about education. Such fear is largely unfounded. In Missouri, our legislators need to understand how much manipulation of district funding is occurring at the state level through the Missouri School Improvement Plan. It is their own state Department of Education that is threatening districts with the loss of funding, not the feds. Local control also means local responsibility so the state must take responsibility for any threats of funding cuts that have come directly from the state.
The change of political tides in Washington that the midterms have brought in offers the public another opportunity to make some headway there as well. While a full scale elimination of the Department of Education is still politically unfeasible, a serious scaling back of their function is possible. A restrengthening of FERPA, even beyond what it was before the Obama Administration got to it, is something the public could shoot for now. The states owe no accounting for their education to the federal government. They do the lions share of the funding and 100% of the implementation. There should be a reduced call for data flowing to DC, not an increased requirement for reporting.
The electorate did part of their job on Tuesday. However, we cannot sit back and think that our job is done now for another two years. Now is the time to educate your elected officials on the facts about education so that they can support local control with real action, not just campaign rhetoric.