News You Can Use:

Fordham Institute, “Nine questions: What does it even mean to oppose the Common Core?”: Michael Petrilli, President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, points out that almost every article written about the GOP presidential campaign mentions opposition to immigration and Common Core. He asks: “But what does it mean when Ted Cruz, or Rand Paul, or Bobby Jindal says he “opposes” the Common Core?,” and poses nine questions for reporters to use when covering this issue. Questions like: “Do you mean that you oppose the Common Core standards themselves? All of them? Even the ones related to addition and subtraction? Phonics? Studying the nation’s founding documents? Or just some of them? Which ones, in particular, do you oppose? Have you actually read the standards?”, and “Do you mean that you think states should drop out of the Common Core? States like Iowa? Isn’t that a bit presumptive, considering that you’re not from Iowa and the state’s Republican governor wants Common Core to stay?”

What It Means: Some of today’s most outspoken Common Core critics were yesterday’s most vocal cheerleaders. Politicians running for President have every right to wrongly characterize Common Core as a federal overreach, even if that characterization conflicts with their previous position. But they cannot continue to be silent in explaining exactly how that supposed overreach is occurring today – and what they would implement in place of the standards.

The Fresno Bee,RedBlueAmerica: Does the US need Common Core education standards?”: Ben Boychuk, associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal and Joel Mathis, associate editor for Philadelphia Magazine weigh in on the CCSS. Mathis defends that Common Core and stresses the importance of having consistent standards across states to ensure all students are receiving a high level education. He also addresses the issue of federal overreach and says that this should not be an issue since states can opt out. He says that the fight over Common Core is mostly a battle within the GOP. That the standards were created with the support of Republican governors, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush remains one of their chief defenders. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was for Common Core before he was against it. He concludes by saying that “it’s an ideological fight that has almost nothing to do with education. And that’s a tedious disservice to our kids.” Boychuk claims that “Common Core is just a fresh gloss on decades-old progressive pedagogy.” And that nothing has really changed, including the teaching. He states that “Republicans got themselves into a real pickle with the Common Core. Because this set of standards had the blessing of state school superintendents and the National Governors Association, Republican elected officials could plausibly claim that Common Core was a bottom-up initiative, rather than yet another federal imposition.” He then says that Race to the Top money was contingent on states adopting the standards. He sums up by saying that many people, including parents, see the standards as an expensive mess and urges that any Republican that wants to win needs to choose the side of the parents.

What It Means: Mathis is correct to stress that CCSS began as and remain a state-led, locally controlled effort. The Standards were developed by educators and experts from across the country, and were later voluntarily adopted by state authorities. States were and never have been forced to adopt them and furthermore, states also choose their own curriculum. Boychuk ignores the fact that 2/3 of parents support higher education standards. Many teachers who have been implementing the standards for years have seen steady progress with their students.



Correcting the Record:

The Des Moines RegisterIowa’s David Kochel goes all in for Jeb Bush”: Jennifer Jacobs reports that Jeb Bush has recruited a key political strategist into his inner circle: Iowa’s David Kochel, who has been a close adviser to Mitt Romney since Romney’s earliest days on the presidential campaign trail. The hire signals that Bush, a former Florida governor, is digging in for a competitive nomination fight. Some Iowa insiders have predicted that Kochel’s selection for 2016 will be the state’s eventual mainstream consensus pick for the GOP nomination. She reports that Kochel described Bush, who was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, “as one of the nation’s most innovative and effective state leaders, with a record of conservative reform unmatched among his peers.” She reports that “Iowa’s most conservative caucusgoers will likely frown on some of Bush’s stances, including his support for a path to legal status for illegal immigrants and his support for government-mandated education standards known as the Common Core.”

Where They Went Wrong: Jacobs reports that the CCSS are government mandated but CCSS began as and remain a state-led, locally controlled effort. States have also been able to choose their own curriculum and how they implement the standards at the local level.



On Our Reading List:

The Washington Post, “Religious Faith to Be Key Piece of Possible Jeb Bush Run”: A memo from a top adviser to Jeb Bush gives a clue as to how he could connect with the conservative base of his party if he runs for president: talking about his religious faith. Faith is listed as one of nine “issues you care about” in a memo to Mr. Bush’s supporters from Sally Bradshaw that quotes Mr. Bush on each topic, offering an on-message preview of his potential bid for the Republican nomination. The memo from Mrs. Bradshaw offers what amounts to talking points about the policies and themes Mr. Bush will promote if he runs for president. At the top of the list of quotations from Mr. Bush on nine topics: economic mobility, which is becoming a rallying cry among potential presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle. Mr. Bush is also quoted talking about tax reforms that benefit the middle class and the poor, a “patriotic” energy policy that expands the use of American resources, and a foreign policy that “restores the trust of our friends and the fear of our enemies.” The memo quotes Mr. Bush talking about education and immigration but does not directly address the positions that could give him the most trouble with in a Republican primary: his support for the Common Core academic standards and for legalizing undocumented workers.

 The Washington Post, “Does Maryland’s new governor want to hit ‘pause’ button on Common Core?”: Strauss reports that when Larry Hogan was running for governor of Maryland, he responded to questions about his position on school reform by saying that he believed in local control of education, and he characterized the implementation of reforms in the state as “a train wreck.” Strauss asked Hogan’s spokeswoman whether he planned to revisit the state’s decision to use PARCC and/or continue implementing the Common Core. This is what she wrote in an e-mail: “Governor Hogan believes that we need to hit the ‘pause’ button on Common Core and give control back to teachers and parents. Improving our K-12 education system isn’t a one-time shot or part-time effort, but something that must be continually addressed. Evaluating the effectiveness of complex programs like Common Core and the method in which they are either improved or removed is part of that process, and is something that Governor Hogan will be doing throughout the entire course of his administration.” Maryland schools have been implementing the Common Core State Standards for several years, and is a member of PARCC. Hogan cannot pull out of PARCC unilaterally and when asked about their work on Common Core, the Maryland DOE said that “Maryland’s college and career-ready standards have been in place in all of our schools for two years — three in many instances. Our efforts are focused on continuing this work.”

Bloomberg Politics, “Rand Paul Lashes Out At Common Core, 2016 Rivals in Fundraising Email”: Senator Rand Paul on Thursday took shots at Common Core education standards and potential 2016 rivals in an aggressive fundraising e-mail from his political-action committee. With the subject line “Rotten to the core,” the Kentucky Republican criticized the education standards as containing “anti-American propaganda, revisionist history that ignores the faith of our Founders and data-tracking of students from kindergarten on.” The e-mail called out other potential White House candidates by name, including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, as “prominent backers” of the plan.