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Spate of GOP Bills Take Aim at Common Core

Add yet another anti-common-core bill from Congress to your tally. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., a moderate who is facing a tough primary challenge, has introduced a resolution that makes it clear education is a state issue, and that the U.S. Secretary of Education should not coerce states into adopting common education standards.

The resolution—introduced Feb. 5—also states that the federal government shouldn't give states who adopt common core an edge in any future grant competitions. (The Obama administration gave states that adopted the Common Core State Standards—46, plus the District of Columbia—a leg-up in the Race to the Top contest.)

The language has been endorsed by eight GOP senators, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a tea party hero, and Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, a leader on K-12 issues who is also up for re-election,  

There's a companion version of the bill in the House, introduced Wednesday—by Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., and endorsed by more than 40 lawmakers. The legislation joins at least two other recent GOP bills—one by Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia and one by Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, that each take aim at the common core. For what it's worth, Gingrey is running for Senate in the Peach State and Roberts is up for re-election in Kansas.   

Interestingly enough, House and Senate Republican leaders have already made it clear they aren't too wild about the common core. An ESEA reauthorization measure that passed the House with only GOP support last summer included similar language around the common core, prohibiting the secretary not only from awarding extra money to states that adopt the standards, but also from allowing states that sign on to the common core additional regulatory flexibility.  

And a Senate bill, introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., would explicitly bar the secretary from doing anything to encourage states to adopt a particular set of standards.

Some background: The common-core standards were developed by a partnership of the Council for Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association. The Obama administration never told states they had to adopt the standards, but states that did got extra points in their Race to the Top applications.

Plus, the department made adoption of college- and career- ready standards a requirement for states that wanted a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act. Common core fit the bill, but states—including Virginia and Texas—were able to get a waiver without adopting it.

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