It’s been interesting to watch the Common Core Standards get increasingly tied up in politics.
The initiative was birthed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, groups that include both Republicans and Democrats. The aim was to create a single set of rigorous K-12 English and math standards that states would voluntarily adopt.
Early on, pretty much everyone liked them, except for a handful of states that held out.
When South Dakota’s Board of Education adopted them in 2010, the only person to speak against them in a public hearing was this guy.
Trouble came when the Obama administration made Common Core adoption – not quite by name, but by implication – mandatory for states seeking billions in competitive federal grants.
That’s when some Republicans reflexively began to see the standards as a federal mandate and something worth fighting against.
Observers generally agree pushback from Republican voters on the Common Core cost Tony Bennett, a Republican and prominent education reformer, his job last November as Indiana’s superintendent of public education. He soon was hired by the state of Florida.
In South Dakota, the Republican establishment remains firmly behind the Common Core, but there are some critics.
Rep. Jim Bolin, a Canton Republican and retired social studies teacher, introduced a bill in 2011 which would have prevented South Dakota from ever adopting common history standards (which do not exist, incidentally). It passed the House but died in the Senate amid strong opposition from the South Dakota Department of Education.
In a conversation at the Argus Leader this morning, Lora Hubbel cited the Common Core as part of the “progressive” agenda on education, which she described as “top-down” and “meddling in our business.” Conservatives, by contrast, prefer local control over what is taught, she said.
By that measure, there are an awful lot of progressive Republicans out there.