By guest blogger Catherine Gewertz
Under pressure from common-core opponents, Maine Gov. Paul R. LePage has signed an executive order declaring that the state's schools are fully in charge of the academic standards that guide their teaching. Maine adopted the common standards in April of 2011.
According to the Associated Press and local news media, LePage signed the order yesterday. The Republican governor had been getting heat from conservative opponents of the standards, who were concerned that local control over education was being eroded, and that student data would be inappropriately shared as part of the initiative.
The order says that the "federal government has no constitutional authority to set learning standards in Maine or any other state, nor determine how children in the state of Maine or any other state will be educated."
Its also plants a flag in the ground for control of education at the schoolhouse level, proclaiming that it is "the right of local school units, not the state, to develop and or adopt curricula and instructional approaches consistent with state learning standards."
LePage's order bars the state from adopting any standards or curriculum mandated by the federal government, and from applying for federal grants that require the state to use them. (The idea that the standards were "mandated" by the U.S. Department of Education is hotly disputed. Some argue that the government incentivized states to embrace the common core because those who had adopted the standards had a better chance of winning federal grant money in the Race to the Top competition, and getting waivers from key provisions of No Child Left Behind. But common-core backers say that's bunk, pointing out that states could also win RTT grants and get waivers by adopting their own "college and career-ready standards.")
Gov. LePage's order was welcomed in the conservative blogosphere, where attacks on the common core have been circulating in recent months. But it won't change the plans of those who are gathering signatures for a statewide vote to repeal the standards outright, according to the Portland Press-Herald.