I spoke with a reporter from Education Week yesterday about the status of different pieces of legislation in different states. While we’re not seeing repeal bills advance like we’d like to see I’m still encouraged by the number of bills and any movement forward. Just seeing how this issue has advanced since the last legislative session has been encouraging, and seeing how much grassroots activism has grown has been exciting.
We’re playing the long game there. This is not an issue, unfortunately, that will be won overnight. Legislators who are not dealing with the Common Core in their states may end up feeling heat at the ballot box.
The reporter asked if that was a big expectation out of the issue that it could actually make an impact in elections?
I don’t know… ask Tony Bennett.
Yes and no. I will make no grand predictions or promises. I just know that state legislators and Governors could open themselves up for a challenge.
For instance South Dakota Dennis Daugaard (R) has a primary challenger in former State Representative Lori Hubbell, she has made the Common Core one of her top issues. In Iowa’s U.S. Senate Republican primary race, Mark Jacobs is taking heat for his support of Common Core, and two of his competitors Sam Clovis and Matt Whitaker have released videos stating their position on it. Another example is Mississippi Conservatives PAC attacking State Senator Chris McDaniel, who is running for U.S. Senate, about his votes in favor of funding the Common Core State Standards.
I’m sure there are a number of state legislative races that I’ve not even heard about.
I was reminded yesterday about an article that Joy Pullmann wrote for The Federalist – “Common Core: The Biggest Election Issue Washington Prefers to Ignore.” She wrote about some bad behavior that has occurred among elected officials who have shown total and utter disregard of the electorate:
Before one of these hearings in October, Ohio House Education Chairman Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster) told reporters Common Core critics “don’t make sense.” He also called opposition a “conspiracy theory.” In Wisconsin the same month, state Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) told a packed audience their hearings were “crazy” and “a show,” and asked, “What are we doing here?” When Michigan’s legislature reinstated Common Core funding after several hearings, State Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw County) said, “[W]e’ve marginalized, quite frankly, the anti-crowd into a very minute number.” Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) has called opponents a “distract[ing]” “fringe movement.”
Then she pointed out the political games being played in Florida:
Florida’s state board of education received 19,000 public comments on Common Core in October. Officials still have not formally reviewed those, and lawmakers including Gov. Rick Scott (R) told constituents the comments were part of lawmakers reconsidering Common Core after dropping its national tests. The day before the comment period closed, however, Florida Deputy K-12 Chancellor Mary Jane Tappen said on a webinar, “We are moving forward with the new more rigorous [Common Core] standards. So, if anyone is hesitating or worried about next year, the timeline has not changed.”
In November, Florida Senate President Don Gaetz said of Common Core: “You can’t dip [the mandates] in milk and hold them over a candle and see the United Nations flag or Barack Obama’s face. They’re not some federal conspiracy.” (The Republican hails from Niceville. Really.) When opponents met with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) to discuss their substantive concerns, he asked them, “Is Common Core going to teach gay sex or communism?” according to three people who attended the meeting.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R) seems like she cares more about her chairmanship of the National Governors Association than listening to the people. Will she pay a price when she runs for reelection? Will Governor Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana), Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) and former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) pay a price if they decide to run for President?
I was asked by that same reporter if we could gage the success of our movement based on results at the ballot box. I think that may be hard to gauge. In the case of the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction race we definitely could see Common Core as an issue and it was one that Tony Bennett lost. In primary races the Common Core may very well be a wedge issue to help us see daylight in between candidates that are closely aligned. The quality of candidate is also something to take into consideration. It is hard to unseat incumbents, but especially if you don’t have a quality candidate running. Running on a single issue is not enough, but it a candidate’s position against the Common Core can make a difference for a quality candidate.
Incumbents being challenged whether they are Governors or legislators can make a difference however so this is definitely one front on the war on Common Core. The message that is sent at the ballot box seems to be the only message some politicians understand.
Photo credit: Ben Sutherland (CC-By-2.0)