Some GOP Politicians Don’t Understand that the ESSA Ends Federal Involvement in State Standards, Promotes Local Control in Education

During a recent interview published by WND News, Senator Ted Cruz again claimed Common Core State Standards are the work of federal authorities. “Education is too important, I believe, for it to be governed by unelected bureaucrats in Washington,” Cruz said. “So if I’m elected president, in the very first days in office, I intend to instruct the federal Department of Education that Common Core ends that day.”

Businessman Donald Trump has made similar claims.

Both Mr. Trump and Sen. Cruz will have a tough time making good on their promises because there is no federal law requiring states to use Common Core State Standards. “No one can ‘repeal’ the Common Core. It is not a law, federal or otherwise,” Michael McShane of the Show-Me Institute wrote last year.

To ensure states stop using the Common Core, Sen. Cruz and Mr. Trump would have to either employ the very executive powers they criticize, or instead, run for a position as an elected state official (instead of a federal one).

Instead of a large scale rejection of the Common Core, as many opponents predicted, states are overwhelmingly reviewing, refining and building on them. Last year Karen Nussle pointed out: “Five years after states initiated the creation of Common Core State Standards and voluntarily adopted them, the debate over whether the Standards will survive appears to be settled: Common Core Standards are here to stay.”

In December, lawmakers delivered a huge assurance to states by declaring that states alone will continue to have full control of their academic standards, with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The law ensures federal authorities have no control over which education standards states implement, whether they are Common Core or something else.

Congressman John Kline, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, called the law a “huge win for conservatives.” Asked if the law should put to rest claims of federal intrusion through the Common Core, Rep. Kline added: “That is exactly correct…The federal government should not be able to tell states what standards they can or cannot adopt. If states want to use Common Core, it is not the place of the federal government to tell them they cannot do that.”

While the Common Core has been a popular punching bag for conservatives, state leaders have been moving forward with the standards and building on them to ensure more students get and stay on a path of college and career readiness.