Iowa Governor Terry Branstad Owns Common Core

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad speaks to the Iowa Federation of College Republicans. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-2.0)
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad speaks to the Iowa Federation of College Republicans.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-2.0)

Don’t let Iowa Governor Terry Branstad tell you any different, he owns the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. He owns the large price tag for a new assessment, Smarter Balanced, that will be implemented in Iowa schools in Spring of 2018.

Sure Branstad wasn’t Governor when Common Core was first brought into the state, but he has been instrumental in seeing these standards stay entrenched in the state. He also opened up the way for the State Board of Education to foist the Next Generation Science Standards on Iowa schools.

Branstad pretended to hear the grassroots activists who met with him pleading that he take action to pull Iowa out of the Common Core State Standards initiative. In 2013 he signed an executive order that ordered a review of Iowa’s standards. It said in part that the “Iowa Department of Education shall develop a regular review cycle for the Iowa Core, including public comment, to determine the contents of and to continually improve state academic standards.”

Nine months later nothing had been done to start a review of the Common Core State Standards, but in 2013 a review process of the science standards was underway.

The science standards! Not the math or the ELA standards that everyone was complaining about. The “review” of the standards was nothing but a way to railroad the Next Generation Science Standards through – a set of standards that even some Common Core advocates though were awful.

The Iowa State Board of Education adopted the standards gleefully.

This was under Branstad’s watch and nary a peep out of the Governor.

We have seen our Common Core legislation stall, never making it out of subcommittee, and opposed by lobbyists with the Iowa Department of Education. The Iowa Legislature did put Smarter Balanced on hold in 2013 by implementing an assessment task force which, of course, was given to the Iowa Department of Education to lead.

Branstad then pulled Iowa out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (it must be noted that Branstad’s executive orders on Common Core happened leading up to his reelection bid). An assessment task force was underway to determine a new assessment for Iowa schools.

The task force naturally decided on Smarter Balanced which, like the Next Generation Science Standards, was a foregone conclusion. The Iowa State Board of Education endorsed the decision, and then later decided they had the authority to mandate it.

The Joint Administrative Rules Committee made up of legislators from the Iowa House and Iowa Senate disagreed and unanimously voted for a session delay in December of 2015. The legislature then voted to delay and review the administrative rule for the Smarter Balanced Assessments prior to the next legislative session. This was a bipartisan action, and Branstad, in a betrayal to Iowa parents, vetoed that language in the education appropriations bill.

He wrote in his veto message:

These items unduly delay Iowa’s transition to a new statewide academic assessment system. The Iowa Department of Education can best serve students by moving forward immediately to prepare for the implementation of the new assessment system on July 1, 2017. School administrators and teachers are eager for a new assessment system that is closely aligned with Iowa’s high state academic standards. By providing better information about students’ academic progress, the new assessment system will improve instruction. A well-aligned assessment is a key step toward providing a globally competitive education.

Common Core, which this assessment will keep entrenched in our state, so far has widened the achievement gap for Iowa students. Scores have been stagnant. Teachers in a survey given by Professional Educators of Iowa showed opposition to the Common Core, as well as, other education reform measures being taken by the Branstad Administration.

But hey, we’ve got to give the educrats what they’re asking for! We know Branstad serves their interests, not the interests of Iowa parents and taxpayers.

Branstad very much deserves a place on our Governor’s Wall of Shame and we can only hope this professional politician will not have the hubris to seek a seventh term.