Mike Huckabee Pressed on His Common Core History

mike-huckabee-2016-announcementAt the risk of sounding like a broken record, I need to discuss former Governor Mike Huckabee’s relationship with the Common Core.  I wrote a piece at The Pulse 2016 addressing Huckabee (who just announced his candidacy for President today) that radio talk show host Steve Deace brought up in an interview with Huckabee published today.

Huckabee pretty much avoids two problems I bring up in The Pulse piece:

Yes he has said many times he opposes Common Core, but as recently as 2013 he urged Oklahoma lawmakers to stick with Common Core as they considered the state’s eventual repeal. He also said in his book Simple Government that Race to the Top (which helped to thrust Common Core onto states and brought the Federal government into the mix) was a “good idea.”….

….Huckabee during a press conference in Iowa said that he is referring to the American Diploma Project when he said he liked Common Core initially.  That is not what Oklahoma lawmakers were fighting, however, in 2013. Common Core has its roots with the ADP sure, but the ADP compilation of state standards was not the final product.  That is not what Race to the Top brought into the states.

In the Deace interview he wrote (I believe this was an email exchange):

This recent article shared by several Iowa Caucus activists I know summarizes the ongoing controversy over your position on Common Core. I know I’ve asked you about this previously, but once and for all can you articulate what you think Common Core is, and do you or have you ever supported it?

I have been quite clear on this. I oppose Common Core and believe we should abolish the federal Department of Education. We must KILL Common Core and restore common sense. It has grown far beyond being STATE-CONTROLLED standards in math and language arts. Common Core didn’t have ANYTHING to do with curriculum, nor with any subjects other than math and language arts. But the feds hijacked it by tying funding to it at the same time it was adding things to the process that were not part of the original intent. CC was supposed to remain in the hands of local officials, but by making funding based on adherence the federal prescriptions it was doomed.

I still support STATE or LOCAL standards, and can’t imagine any conservative who doesn’t because conservatives have never favored dumbing down the schools or accepting automatic promotion. Education decisions are ultimately best made by the MOST local government—MOM AND DAD. But if we’re going to spend most state tax dollars on education, then we ought to insist on results. As for federal involvement, I not only favor eliminating CC [Common Core], I push for the abolition of the federal Department of Education. [Emphasis added by Gov. Huckabee]

Well, Steve tried.  Bill Gates would disagree that Common Core wasn’t about curriculum.  I’ll be the first to say that they are standards, but those surrounding the development of Common Core planned for aligned curriculum.  Gates said during a 2009 speech at the National Conference of State Legislatures, “When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well—and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large base of customers eager to buy products that can help every kid learn and every teacher get better. Imagine having the people who create electrifying video games applying their intelligence to online tools that pull kids in and make algebra fun.”

Also as I’ve said time and time and time again, the problem is with the standards themselves.  The Common Core was NEVER good.  It has ALWAYS been developmentally inappropriate for early elementary school students.  It has never, in any draft form, been on track to prepare students for STEM.  It has always had an over emphasis on informational text.

Then he complains about Federal involvement… which he supported!  He called Race to the Top a good idea in 2011 and seems to pretend that he never said it.  Admitting that he did support it and has changed his mind would go a long way.

While I’m not against quality state and local standards to say that standards themselves are something conservatives should embrace is intriguing.  The primary problem with the standards and accountability movement is that it has absolutely no data backing it up.

There’s just no data that suggests centralizing standards at the local, state or federal level will raise student achievement.  That’s not to say having benchmarks is a bad thing (if they are quality), but they are not a silver bullet.  There are plenty of other reforms conservatives (and others) can and should embrace, but putting all the eggs in the standards and accountability movement would be a mistake.