Primary Debates Continue to Showcase Lack of Knowledge on Common Core

In the early stages of most recent GOP primary debate, the moderator asked for thoughts on the Common Core State Standards. RedState posted an article on the exchange, which is subtly titled “Ted Cruz is Absolutely Correct on Common Core.”

But there are a number of reasons why this article – and some conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz – are incorrect and misinformed. Here are three inaccurate claims from the article:

  1. “Common Core’s biggest problem is that the U.S. Department of Education has been using other programs like Race to the Top funding in order to more or less blackmail states into adopting the standards.”

This is a typical comment from Sen. Cruz and other conservatives, but there’s one fairly large problem with it: there is no federal law requiring states to use Common Core (let alone one that blackmails them into using a certain set of standards). With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act last December, lawmakers provided states with the assurance that they will continue to have total control over which education standards they implement, with no interference from the federal government. Even Senators who didn’t show up to vote for the final ESSA bill – like Cruz, Rubio and Sanders – should know this because they voted on the Senate version of the legislation.

  1. “There are very, very few curricula written to the standards, and the majority of the ones out there are barely comprehensible.”

This really has nothing to do with the Common Core State Standards – and is an unfair characterization. The Common Core is just that: a set of standards that show where students should be at each grade level in order to graduate from high school ready college and career. They are not – nor have they ever been – a curriculum, and it has always been up to the states to write their own curricula. The “barely comprehensible” lessons that RedState refers to are rarely Common Core-aligned, as discussed in a blog post by the Collaborative’s Jim Cowen.

  1. “Cruz’s plan to roll back the executive actions that have led to the abuse of education funding and eventually eliminate the Department of Education is the most sensible way to go about de-federalizing Common Core.”

The Common Core cannot be “de-federaliz[ed],” they are standards developed by the states that can only be adopted by the states. If conservatives like Sen. Cruz and Donald Trump want to eliminate the Department of Education on day one with the goal of eradicating Common Core, they’ll be disappointed when they wake up on day two and the Common Core remains firmly where it is: in local control.

Conservatives who continue to loudly proclaim their opposition to the Common Core State Standards would be well served to check out any of the coverage that corrects their misstatements – including this piece from the Daily Caller.