Is a repeal of Common Core coming to the “Hawkeye State”
DES MOINES, July 16, 2014 — a crowd of individuals packed into a small room in the campaign headquarters for the Branstad campaign to speak to the current governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, and demand the elimination of Common Core in Iowa.
The history behind this encounter is very brief, but messy nonetheless. In 2010, a set of national education standards referred to as the “Common Core” were adopted by every state excluding Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia. These standards were not well known at the time, were untested, and had been developed out of the public eye. But the promise of federal funding for top-performing states was a temptation too juicy resist for most state governors.
Since then, much has been discovered about these standards which calls into question not only their efficacy, but also the motives behind centralizing what has traditionally been a state-run issue. The issues cited by parents and activists alike have been privacy concerns related to questions asked of children in testing material, age-inappropriate books in required reading lists, manipulation techniques laced into language arts study, anti-Semitic critical thinking exercises, pervasive threats to teachers and others involved in the education system should they speak out about Common Core, and frequent refusal to allow parental oversight including several arrests of dissenting parents.
As these issues have come to the forefront, there has been a tide steadily building against the Common Core standards. Hundreds of anti-Common Core groups, with names like Stop Common Core, Local Control, RestoreEd, and We Will Not Conform, have cropped up across the country. These groups, while sometimes spearheaded by right-of-center groups or activists, are more often than not comprised of concerned parents.
And recently, this wave has been producing results. Just days ago, on July 15, 2014, the governor of Missouri signed a law instituting a task force that will develop standards to replace the Common Core in his state. Oklahoma also repealed its Common Core standards, but this was challenged and taken to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. However, on the same day the Missouri law was signed, the court upheld the repeal of the Common Core standards, stating that it was, indeed, the right of a state to set their own educational standards.
This has led to growing pressure on Governor Branstad of Iowa, who has the prime authority to break the Common Core contract. Now bordered with two states that have refused Common Core, the ability to compete has been a growing concern among political activists. This was among the issues cited by the experts that had been brought to testify against the standards. They took time to go through the issues, as this was the latest in a long string of similar meetings, and discussed some of the alternatives that could be considered. Finally, the governor spoke, and confirmed to the room of people that, in light of the problems that have risen, he and his administration are looking at “options to disconnect from [Common Core].”
Iowa could be the next on a slew of states jumping off the Common Core bandwagon, and it will stand as another victory for parents and teachers alike who are fighting against the standards. What this will mean for other states with groups that are also looking to repeal or replace the standards is yet to be seen. And the question still stands, at what point as states move away will the Common Core standards become not so common? Will they turn insolvent as a nationwide measurement once ten or fifteen states will not comply? Of course, it is too early to tell. But this development raises the stakes significantly from a state whose caucuses drive the politics of election years.
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