An Iowan’s Open Letter to Governor Mike Huckabee

Governor Mike Huckabee speaking at the FAMiLY Leadership Summit in Ames, IA.

Governor Mike Huckabee speaking at the FAMiLY Leadership Summit in Ames, IA.

Dear Governor Huckabee,

Last Friday you told the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference that conservatives should “stop the fight” over the Common Core State Standards.

It seems to me that, as you consider a run for President in 2016, you intend to straddle the fence on this issue.  This is a strategy that rarely, if ever, works.  As an observer of presidential politics in Iowa I’ve seen too many politicians trip up trying to play both sides.  You are not any different.

Governor, by calling the Common Core “toxic” and “radioactive” you apparently still believe that the only problem with Common Core is a branding problem. This, you have said in the past, is due to the Federal involvement in promoting the standards through Race to the Top and ESEA flexibility waivers.

Governor Huckabee, Common Core was toxic before the standards made it into the public eye.  Once again, the name of the standards is not the problem, the standards are.  We have a problem with this particular set of standards, and you are correct sir that we do not want to “dumb down” our schools.  This is exactly why we are fighting for quality standards.  The Federal involvement into Common Core is just one of several problems with the standards.  You also fail to acknowledge that it was Governors, through the National Governors Association’s report Benchmarking for Success, who encouraged federal involvement.

Governor Huckabee, if you want to fight for students you need to recognize that top-down education initiatives never work.  I challenge you to name one that has worked.  Fighting for students we recognize that our students are not “common” and our states are not either.  As Texas Governor Rick Perry would say, states are “laboratories of innovation,” and this top-down approach will kill innovation at the state level, and most certainly at the classroom level, once the accompanying assessments roll out.

If you do not want to listen to me then please listen to teachers who oppose the Common Core.  Support for the Common Core among teachers has plummeted because they have moved past the talking points to implementation.  There is research that you can read that addresses not only the problems with federal involvement, but the standards’ quality, consequences of the standards on college preparation, the cost to the states, and the potential loss of student privacy.  You can also listen to expert testimony on the subject as well.  It’s clear that you’ve listened to those who support the standards.  It’s time that you actually read and listen to what those who oppose the standards have to say.

It’s obvious to me that you’ve not really progressed beyond talking points.  You may not like the debate we are having, but it is one that should have occurred in 2010 before 45 states’ executive branches adopted these standards without giving “we the people” a voice through our elected representatives.  Education policy will be, like it or not, shaped in the political realm because we live in a constitutional republic.  Bureaucrats and Governors alone can not make these decisions for our nation’s children.

All the parents I know who are fighting Common Core are fighting for students, their students, and the fight has only begun.

Sincerely yours,

Shane Vander Hart

An Iowan who endorsed and supported you in 2008.

Update: Someone accused me of not doing my research, so here is the video.  His comments related to the Common Core came during the press Q&A.  Did he say some things I agree with?  As a former pastor I wholeheartedly agree with his comments about parents being the ones who are ultimately responsible for educating their kids.  I also agree (even though some of my friends in this fight would disagree) with his comments on school choice.  It is plain as you listen to the video that he defends the math and ELA standards.  I get what he is saying about other items that attached to Common Core.  I’ve written recently about that myself, but what he doesn’t seem to understand is that the math and ELA standards are bad, that the NGA invited federal involvement in the standards, and that federalism (It seems that he doesn’t believe in it anymore) does not support a top-down approach to education whether it is from the federal government or special interests.

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About the Author ()

Shane Vander Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Caffeinated Thoughts, a popular Christian conservative blog in Iowa. He is also the President of 4:15 Communications, a social media & communications consulting/management firm, along with serving as the communications director for American Principles Project’s Preserve Innocence Initiative.  Prior to this Shane spent 20 years in youth ministry serving in church, parachurch, and school settings.  He has taught Jr. High History along with being the Dean of Students for Christian school in Indiana.  Shane and his wife home school their three teenage children and have done so since the beginning.   He has recently been recognized by Campaigns & Elections Magazine as one of the top political influencers in Iowa. Shane and his family reside near Des Moines, IA.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Google +.

Comments (11)

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  1. Steve Boesen says:

    Well said

  2. Rob Olson says:

    I agree, but learn how to use commas.

  3. 2016Huck1Fan says:

    What a judgmental letter ! Who made you the King of Knowledge? It’s an interesting statement “you need to recognize that top-down education initiatives never work”. Really ? Mike Huckabee who earned a 4 year degree in 2.5 years with a 4.0 GPA knows nothing about education ? You have got to be kidding me. You seem to have a real problem separating the Voluntary state to state Common Core Core Standards that the Governors drew up FROM the Obama Administration mixing those standards to create their own Common Core Standards Curriculum. The Governors Standards are very different from the Obama Common Core Standards. You seem to skimmed over the material or you have a reading and a hearing deficit. I hope you will talk to Gov. Mike Huckabee personally and allow him to explain the details you have missed. Huckabee 2016

    • Steve Boesen says:

      Sir:

      If you had children in the public school system you would not be such a big fan of Common Core, or those like Gov Huckabee who support it. I am unclear how anyone who claims to be a conservative could support it. Common Core and its companion program Standards Based Grading (SBG) are destroying our education system. I currently have 2 teens in the Ankeny School System and just graduated one last year. My children
      have no homework (they get no credit for doing it) at all when they get home. Common Core is a federally devised and run program where the federal government has no Consitutional mandate to be involved in. My children can re-take tests they do poorly in, taking away the accountability they will have when they get to college, whether they are prepared for it, or not. Common core standards are not internationally benchmarked, not research-based, nor are they rigorous.
      Common Core’s english standards reduce the critical thinking skills of our children, something they will need in spades as they try to compete in the private sector and in life. Additionally, the CC english standards are writing standards are developmentally inappropriate at many grade levels and lack coordination with its reading standards.

      Your comment that the Governor’s standards being different from the federal CC standards are incorrect. Iowa Core IS the same as Common Core. The education standards that used to be the class of the world and produced the wealth that we all enjoy and backsliding rapidly, because we (conservatives) have allowed progressives (like
      Gov Huckabee) to take over the education system. If you want to support a RINO, that is your right. But do not take Mr. Vander Hart to task over something you know little about. Also understand you are supporting an establishment RINO who means well, but is out of touch with what is really going on. As a parent who actually has kids in the system, I can tell you our system is failing and our children will not be able to compete with the rest of the world, despite what Gov Huckbee and others will tell you. My children, our children and grandchildren deserve better. If you care about education, support groups such
      as Restore IowaEd at http://iowarestored.com/

  4. Laura Carlson says:

    Mike Huckabee does NOT support Common Core – but he does support setting high education standards and demanding accountability for the results. He supports LOCAL control of education and is steadfast in his belief that PARENTS should decide the best venue for their children.

    Governor Huckabee just recently stated… “Common Core was designed to keep federal hands from interfering in the subjects of Math and English, yet that concept has been hijacked. Common Core is dead, but common sense is not.”

    The AP story said “Stop Fighting Over Common Core.” Huckabee never actually said those words. He talked about the difference between “kid” people and “school” people and that we need to be “kid” people putting the children first and said we shouldn’t spend all our energy fighting for programs, but fighting for kids.

    Here are his exact words in capitals below:

    “I SALUTE THE EFFORTS IN THE COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS IN THE CHURCHES FOR EVERY BAPTISM AND CHRISTENING. I DON’T LIKE THE IDEA TURNING IN THE REPORT CARDS. I AM THINKING BACK TO MY OWN STUDENT DAYS. I WANT TO ADDRESS THE COMMON CORE QUESTION.

    I THINK IT HAS BECOME TOXIC AND RADIOACTIVE. IT IS A CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC ON BOTH THE LEFT AND RIGHT. YOU HAVE EQUAL DISREGARD OR REPULSION FROM PEOPLE ON THE LEFT AND RIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO COMMON CORE. I DON’T WANT TO FIGHT OVER A PROGRAM. I WANT TO FIGHT FOR STUDENTS. THE FIGHT IS NOT ABOUT WHAT IT IS CALLED. IT IS MAKING SURE THAT WE ELEVATE TO THE HIGHEST LEVEL CHALLENGING ACADEMIC STANDARDS FOR STUDENTS. IF WE ARE GOING TO DIVIDE OURSELVES OVER COMMON CORE, LET’S STOP THAT.

    LET’S NOT STOP THE FIGHT WHETHER WE YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT OR LEFT FOR SAYING WE WANT OUR STUDENTS TO ACHIEVE TO THE HIGHEST LEVEL THEY’RE CAPABLE OF. THEY CAN’T DO THAT IF WE DUMB DOWN THE SCHOOLS. I DON’T KNOW ANY CONSERVATIVE WHO WANTS TO DUMB DOWN AMERICA SCHOOLS. IF A STUDENT MOVES, THE EXPECTATIONS OF WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO EXPERIENCE ACADEMICALLY IN ONE STATE IS COMPARABLE TO THE OTHER.

    IT IS NO DIFFERENT THAN WHEN WE PLAY BASKETBALL. IF YOU ARE PLAYING IN CALIFORNIA AND THEN PLAY A TEAM IN KENTUCKY, A KENTUCKY TEAM WILL PROBABLY BEAT YOU. YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE THE GOAL IS STILL 10 FEET OFF THE FLOOR AND THE BALL IS INFLATED TO THE SAME LEVEL AND THE DIMENSIONS OF THE COURT OF THE SAME. LET’S SAY IN CALIFORNIA LOWER THE GOAL DOWN TO SIX FEET AND THEY MAKE SURE EVERYBODY CAN SLAMDUNK THE BALL, HAVE THEY CREATED A BETTER TEAM? THEY HAVE ARTIFICIALLY LOWERED STANDARDS TO MAKE IT APPEAR THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL.

    I WANT THOSE KIDS TO BE ABLE TO SUCCEED IN ANY STATE. THEY WON’T BE SO FAR BEHIND THAT THEY GIVE UP AND QUIT BECAUSE THEY CAN’T CATCH UP. THAT IS WHAT I WILL FIGHT FOR. I’M NOT GOING TO FIGHT OVER A PROGRAM THAT HAS SO MANY STICKY NOTES PUT ALL OVER IT ABOUT THINGS OR NEVER A PART OF COMMON CORE WHICH IS A VERY SIMPLE THING YOU. THE CONTROVERSY IS OVER DATA COLLECTION AND CURRICULUM AND SPECIFICS. STOP THE FIGHT. LET’S NOT MAKE THIS SOMETHING WE ARE GOING TO SHED BLOOD FOR NO PARTICULAR VALUE TO THE STUDENTS. THE STUDENTS FIRST.”

    This whole Common Core thing is becoming exasperating and nearing a point of being ridiculous. If the energy spent parsing every word Mike Huckabee (or every christian conservatives, for that matter) says were spent fighting radical Islam, socialism, and secularism, we’d be winning. We are on the same team believe it or not.

    • Steve Boesen says:

      Common Core is not exasperating if you have children in our failing school systems as I do. I agree with the Governor about getting our kids the best education we can, so they can compete for opportunities in life. The Common Core curriculum will not help them get there at all. So if concerned parents pushing back on CC is too much for you, take a hike. I’ll continue the fight.
      As for Governor Huckabee’s comments, my sentiments towards him still stands. The statement you posted shows him talking out of both sides of his mouth and quite frankly sounding like a politician. If he is for our children getting the best education they can, then he cannot be for CC. However, he had an opportunity to denounce CC and did not. Sure sounds like he is at least tolerant of it, if not a supporter.

  5. KCTennant says:

    I am disgusted with the lack of objectivity and indifference in the Bettendorf Community School District with regards to our repeated requests for a real teacher who is competent to actually TEACH Common Core Math to our student/son who was cheated last year asa sophomore. Now he is a junior and has to catch up because NO ONE at the Bettendorf High School took appropriate action. Not Colin Wikan, the Dean, not Jimmy Casas, the Principal, Not Theron Schutte, the Superintendent, Not Barry Anderson, the School Board President, Not any Counselor nor Math teacher (Ms. Booten, now at another school). Wikan and Booten promised Greg that if he turned in his missing assignments and remained after school two times a week for tutorials he would be fine. He did. They lied and failed him. They cheated him. Where is the oversight ? Accountability of these creatures that want a six figure salary for abusing the kids ? Iowa needs to be investigated, thoroughly. -Dr. Kenneth Tennant KTennantDC@Gmail.com

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