A Republican’s Take on Common Core and the Midterms Elections

There is no question about this, Republicans did have an historic wave of wins in statehouses across the country on Election Day. In fact, the GOP will now have control of over 4,100 of the nation’s 7,383 legislative seats. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Republicans gained seats in every region of the country and in all but about a dozen legislative chambers. This is the highest number of Republican legislators since 1920. Given that Common Core adoption and implementation is a state-led initiative, and the over-the-top rhetoric from some of the voices on the Right, does this mean trouble for the new higher standards? According to Karen Nussle, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success (and a Republican), the answer is “no.” The “red wave” at the ballot box is not an anti-Common Core vote in most states (emphasis added):
Once the post-election dust settled, it became clear Common Core State Standards were not the divisive wedge opponents had hoped for. In fact, what was truly striking was the fact that those to get elected on anti-Common Core platforms were the outliers, not the norm. Despite more than a year-and-a-half of concerted efforts to rally support against the Standards, candidates and voters overwhelmingly resisted the pressure to call for their repeal.
In fact, Nussle points out the net impact was incredibly low:
  • 38 of 44 governors in states implementing the Common Core Standards have expressed no interest in repealing the Standards;
  • 39 of 44 state superintendents in Common Core states have not taken steps to repeal the Standards; and
  • Within the 44 states where Common Core is on the books, only six governors and four superintendents have sought to repeal it.
The debate is far from over. There is still a lot of implementation work ahead to ensure all of our students graduate college- and career-ready; but instead of focusing on partisan polarization of the policies and undoing the hard work of millions of teachers and students across the country, let’s turn the debate to the classrooms and discuss how we can continue to support these educators and students in mastering the high learning standards that are critical to their success.
Ann Whalen
Ann Whalen is senior advisor to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Prior to returning to the U.S. Department of Education, she served as the director of policy for Education Post. Whalen has served more than five years in the Obama Administration with the U.S. Department of Education. At the department, Ann was director of the Implementation and Support Unit, providing technical assistance to ...

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