Common Core Roundup: News from Georgia, Kansas, and the RNC
In the last few days there have been several interesting news items related to the Common Core State Standards. Let's review them quickly:
• I wrote last week about Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal attempting to quell fears about the common core with his executive order that ensures student-data privacy, but really doesn't change anything the state education department now does on that issue. I mentioned that Deal, a Republican, may have had the state GOP convention that took place this past weekend in mind when he signed the order. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, any hopes Deal may have had that his pronouncement would tamp down opposition to the standards appear to have been misplaced—a resolution calling for the state to drop the common standards was on the docket for Republicans at the convention. As the paper's Jim Galloway reports, only a call for a quorum by a state senator during the convention's last moments saved Deal from the prospect of having hundreds of fellow Republicans vote in favor of killing the common core in Georgia.
The vote would not have had the force of the legislature behind it, of course, but it would have created more headaches and jittery headlines for Deal. If tea party groups, which have been skeptical of the common core in Georgia and elsewhere, remain energized by stories about possible IRS misconduct, that newfound energy could be applied in some cases specifically to common core opposition, creating further trouble for the standards.
• The Business Roundtable, a Washington group of business leaders that supports the standards, sent a letter on May 10 to the Republican National Committee urging the RNC to reconsider its position on the common core. You may recall that the RNC voted last month to officially oppose the common core, stating that the standards represent an intrusion of the federal government into local K-12 decisions, among other criticisms. The Business Roundtable told RNC Chairman Reince Preibus that, on the contrary, the standards are a "tremendous state-led" effort that are "inextricably linked to the success of our nation and our children." The groups reiterates its view that the standards will provide the country with the means to compete on the international stage down the road.
It would certainly be newsworthy if the RNC reversed its position on the common core, but the letter could also be a broad signal to Republicans that corporate leaders' belief in the common core should lend the standards significant credibility.
• Kansas lawmakers are mulling language in the state budget that would strip away funding to implement the common core. (The language would also prevent any funding to implement the Next Generation Science Standards.) A previous Kansas bill to prevent the common core from being implemented has stalled, and using the budget to block the standards is a different approach, one that was used in Michigan recently. Michigan House members blocked common-core funding, but it's unclear how the budget lawmakers send to Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican and common-core supporter, will ultimately handle the standards. Lawmakers in Kansas are expressing concern about the true cost of the standards, and a former state board of education member is claiming that Kansas was "hoodwinked" (the word used by the Associated Press) into adopting the standards.
A lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, however, says that if the state jumped off the common core midstream, districts that have spent time and resources to implement the common core will be left adrift.