Over all the Michigan Republican Primary yesterday was not a good day for Common Core opponents. Debbie Debacker of Stop Common Core in Michigan told me yesterday that most of candidates running against Common Core lost.
I didn’t track those races, I don’t know all of the players, nor do I know how many were going up against incumbents. So it’s hard to provide any type of analysis and I really don’t know how much Common Core was an issue in each race compared to say the quality of the candidates.
It’s not enough to just be against Common Core to win a race, in particular if you are running against an incumbent which is always tough to do anyway.
Debbie indicated that pro-Common Core candidates were well funded by Michigan businesswoman and philanthropist Betsy DeVos (who is a huge Common Core and charter school supporter), as well as, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. It is also hard to beat someone who has more money to spend.
So without any more information I really can’t perform a postmortem of the Michigan Republican primary. I was disappointed to learn that Tom McMillin who was a strong Common Core opponent in the Michigan House lost his bid for Congress. He was beat by former State Senator Majority Leader Mike Bishop in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District Republican primary. Bishop was endorsed by the outgoing Congressman Mike Rogers. McMillin is term-limited so he was not able to run for reelection as a state representative.
I will say that based on national polling I’ve seen I highly doubt Common Core advocacy was what won elections for anybody. More than likely it was downplayed on top of a lot of rhetoric that they respect local control, yada yada…
There was one obvious bright spot however. Two-term State Representative Frank Foster (R-Petoskey) was beat by Lee Chatfield, a 26-year-old Christian school teacher in Michigan House District 107 54% to 46%.
From the start, Chatfield has portrayed Foster as a supporter of the nationwide Common Core State Standards for education that were adopted in Michigan in June 2010 and have led to controversial debate in several states.
But Foster says the federal standards were adopted just before he was first elected in November 2010 and ever since he arrived in Lansing he has voted to put in place safeguards that return control over curriculum to the local districts.
“The standards were adopted but the big thing was whether the legislature was going to fund the implementation of that,” Foster said. “They call it Common Core but really what we said is we understand this process is moving forward, however we think that Petoskey schools ought to have the right to adopt their own curriculum if they don’t like what Common Core is doing.”
Foster is a 27-year-old Republican and Petoskey resident who represents the state House’s 107th district, which includes part of Cheboygan County and all of Emmet, Mackinac and Chippewa counties.
Last year, the legislature briefly paused its changeover to the Common Core standards but later reauthorized the Michigan Department of Education to continue implementing them again. The state Department of Education says “the (Common Core) standards promote equity by ensuring all students, no matter where they live, are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to compete with their peers in the United States and abroad.”
Apparently Foster approved the funding, and he tried to downplay it. It either didn’t work or there were other issues at play as well. Elections are rarely won or lost over one issue.
Congratulations to Lee Chatfield, and I want to wish Tom McMillin well.