In a video on Facebook, Donald Trump claims, “Common Core is a total disaster. We can’t let it continue.” Mischaracterizing the standards as a federal initiative, Trump adds, “Education has to be at the local level. We can’t have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education…We’re going to end Common Core. We’re going to have education an absolute top priority.”
Mr. Trump’s comments not only misrepresent Common Core Standards as a federal intrusion into local education, they ignore the demonstrable success the standards are having.
Objective analysis has repeatedly dismissed claims like Trump’s that Common Core State Standards were forced on states by federal authorities. “Federal officials did not initiate the state standards for public schools or force them on the states,” a 2013 PolitiFact fact-check states. Another PolitiFact review gives a “Pants on Fire” rating to claims that the standards are a tool of the federal government to impose religious or political ideologies on students.
In an open letter last year, 21 State Teachers of the Year supported Common Core State Standards for providing greater flexibility and creativity in the classroom. “Common Core is not a federal takeover of our schools, nor does it force teachers into a rigid model for classroom instruction,” the letter notes. “In fact, under the Common Core, teachers have greater flexibility to design their classroom lessons—and can, for the first time, take advantage of the best practices from great teachers in other states.”
Mr. Trump pledges to end the Common Core if elected president. That promise should have some voters scratching their heads because there is no law or requirement obligating states to use the standards. States voluntarily adopted the standards, and more than five years later most states continue to implement them—refining and building on the framework, exactly as the Common Core was designed.
Last month, the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law, ensuring federal authorities have no authority to influence which academic standards states use, Common Core or otherwise. For that reason Congressman John Kline, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, called the ESSA a “huge win for conservatives.”
When asked if it should put to rest concerns about federal involvement in 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.”