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Backlash grows against state education standards
Lawmakers in Michigan are taking the lead in the fight to stop Common Core as a backlash against the state-driven education system continues to grow.
The Michigan House on Wednesday passed a bill that prohibits any funding for Common Core, a set of math and English standards voluntarily adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. The Michigan measure is the latest blow to the system, now under fire from Republicans across the nation and others who fear it represents the surrender of local control over schools.
“Giving our authority to control what is taught in schools to any national entity is wrong. I am glad the House is taking up the debate of whether this is appropriate,” said state Rep. Tom McMillin, Rochester Republican. The bill also must be passed by the Senate and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder to become law, though it’s unclear whether it will move beyond the House.
Regardless of the bill’s fate, Mr. McMillin’s words are indicative of a larger attitude. Fear of national control over education is what drove the Republican National Committee earlier this month to adopt a resolution strongly condemning Common Core.
The RNC took that step even though many Republican governors, including Tennessee’s Bill Haslam and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, strongly support the system, as do former governors and education-reform champions such as Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels.
To Mr. McMillin’s point, two national groups — the National Governor's Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers — developed the standards and continue to be the loudest promoters of them.
But it’s another supporter that is fueling much of the backlash: the Obama administration.
While the White House didn’t write the standards, it strongly supports them and has urged states to join in the movement. The federal Education Department has offered money and other perks to states that implement Common Core.
A growing number of Republicans are now painting the anti-Common Core movement as a struggle between big government and concerned parents in small towns all across the country, though there’s hardly unity in the party.
In Alabama, for example, the GOP remains deeply divided.
The state’s Senate leader, Republican Del Marsh, said this week that “anything with Common Core, as far as I’m concerned, is off the table,” doubling down on his support for the standards and telling other lawmakers that attempts to defund the system will fail.
His announcement came after 300 educators and businessmen gathered in Montgomery to support them.
State Sen. Scott Beason, a Republican and Common Core critic, told The Associated Press that his “disappointment is off the charts” that efforts to stop the system have failed.
Such clashes are likely to increase as Common Core implementation nears for the 45 states and the District that have adopted it. The system is scheduled to go into effect in most states in the next year.
“This is meant to be state-led. If states have second thoughts about it, they can pull out,” said Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the conservative education think tank the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and a supporter of the standards.
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About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
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