Why Anti-Common Core TwitterBots Won’t Make President Trump “Repeal” High Standards


On the Huffington Post, Rebecca Klein profiles members of the anti-Common Core movement and their vow to get President Trump to make good on his campaign promise to dismantle the Common Core State Standards.  As one conservative said about the movement, “one thing I know about the Common Core grassroots is they don’t give up. Even when things look bad, they ramp it up. I think we can expect that to happen.”

There’s just one problem with ramping up their rhetoric to the President. There’s nothing to dismantle.  As Secretary DeVos has said herself, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) already gives states the control and flexibility they need to set their own standards. In a radio interview, DeVos noted that it “essentially does away with the notion of a Common Core,” and that the Department of Education will “encourage everyone to shoot for excellence with high expectations.”

With these statements, Secretary DeVos joins the chorus of other conservatives who have reinforced the importance of local control.  And as Klein admits, even “[President] Trump has shown no interest in dismantling the Common Core State Standards since taking office, although doing so would be nearly impossible at the federal level since the standards are adopted by states.”

Education standards are determined and implemented by state and local leaders. There are no federal mandates requiring states to adopt education standards, and ESSA ensures the Department of Education can’t change that. If the anti-Common Core “activists” are going to double down, they may want to find someone other than the President to take it on.

Speaking of those “activists” and groups that Klein highlights. Over the past three years, tens of thousands of angry anti-Common Core tweets have been filling up the #CommonCore space on Twitter.  Turns out – a vast number of these tweets originate from a single Twitter bot created by a Florida for-profit religious group that goes by the name #PJNET (Patriot Journalist Network), that tweets out from people’s accounts at will.

Once supporters of Patriot Journalist Network sign up, they are granting permission to have the for-profit group tweet from their accounts – even when they are not online.

The Floridian bot has been tweeting misleading, completely baseless, and negative information about high standards at will. And all those tweets start to add up.  “At its peak, this actor accounted for roughly a quarter of all Common Core-related activity on Twitter,” researchers shared in a new study.

#CommonCore is just one of PJNET’s smear campaigns they are paid to robo-tweet about.

As the Collaborative for Student Success Director of Digital Media Ashley Inman has written, “this negative traffic crowds out real, productive conversations that could be had about Common Core. Such as: Are teachers getting the resources they need to teach to higher standards? Are the materials districts are using aligned to their state’s standards?”

As the anti-Common Core movement ramps up their efforts, let’s hope they ramp up the integrity of their tactics too.