Credit: Lillian Mongeau/EdSource Today

A student displays a geometric figure she built with straws during a Common Core-based math lesson in her 3rd grade classroom.

The Common Core State Standards, the principal reform now underway in California schools, emerged unscathed from the state’s fall electoral battles, including one of the most combative races for state superintendent of public instruction in decades.

That was not the case in some other parts of the country, where some candidates for state superintendent of schools rode the GOP surge to victory on an anti-Common Core platform.

In Arizona, for example, GOP candidate Diane Douglas beat out her Democratic opponent David Garcia for the state superintendent’s post in a low-key campaign that consisted almost entirely of opposition to the Common Core.

In Georgia, the GOP contender for state superintendent Richard Woods defeated Democrat Valarie Wilson with a clear anti-Common Core position. The future of the standards are also unclear in Wyoming, where Jillian Balow, a Republican who opposes the Common Core, easily defeated her Democratic opponent Mike Ceballos, who supported the Common Core.

In California, the Common Core was barely mentioned in the $30 million state school superintendent’s race between incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck – which could be attributed in part to the fact that both candidates support the standards.

“Torlakson and I both agree that the Common  Core is the right direction to go in our state,” Tuck said in an interview during the campaign. His main concern was that he felt that  California – and by extension Torlakson – had not been aggressive enough in implementing  the standards after state adopted them in 2010.

“Other states are going through agonizing twists and turns and somersaults about what to do about the Common Core,” Torlakson said in an interview the day after his narrow victory. “These debates are going on in California, but they are not tearing the Common Core apart.”

Pro-Common Core advocates of different political persuasions did not view election results indicating hostility to the Common Core as a setback.

Karen Nussle, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success, said Tuesday’s ballot box outcomes represented “a net zero-change election insofar as the politics of Common Core is concerned.”

“For the better part of this past year, opponents of Common Core threw everything but the kitchen sink at candidates who support high standards, but in the end, the Standards once again demonstrated their resiliency,” she was reported as saying in the Daily Caller.

Similarly, Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Institute was confident about the long-term prospects of the Common Core. “Those of us who support the Common Core will win some and will lose some,” he wrote in a blog post. “But it won’t change the fundamentals. The vast majority of states, I predict, will continue to move ahead with these higher standards.”

Common Core critics, however, were not as willing to concede that point. Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation said in her view, the message that emerged from Tuesday’s elections was that voters “resoundingly sided with candidates who rejected the Common Core.”

A more critical factor shaping the future of the Common Core will be the extent to which the Republican-controlled Congress will portray the Common Core as an Obama administration initiative, and place barriers in the way of the U.S Dept. of Education backing it. In some conservative circles, the standards are derisively referred to as “Obama Core.”

The politics of the 2016 presidential race will also shape what happens. Some of the most visible Republicans – Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz and Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal – are on record as opposing the standards, while other potential candidates – like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie – support them.

In California, by contrast, no prominent politician has come out against the Common Core – and the odds of that happening seem unlikely, at least for now. As he embarks on his second four-year term in office, Torlakson predicts that the standards are here to stay in California.

“This is not a fad reform, here today and gone tomorrow,” he said. “It will endure, it will provide a skill set for students to prepare for college and careers and provide them with good thinking and communications skills.”

 


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  1. Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

    Common core has at most 4 or 5 years to succeed in California. If the large majority of middle class kids are not proficient by that time there will be political revolt against the standards. Could be that teachers will revolt before then if the support for Common Core does not improve. For the large number of underserved students in California public schools Common Core is a secondary issue. These people … Read More

    Common core has at most 4 or 5 years to succeed in California. If the large majority of middle class kids are not proficient by that time there will be political revolt against the standards. Could be that teachers will revolt before then if the support for Common Core does not improve. For the large number of underserved students in California public schools Common Core is a secondary issue. These people have plenty of reason to revolt already and are not targeting Commin Core the best I can tell.

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    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      A scenario seems likely where CC does not survive the next presidential election. As noted above and elsewhere, resistance to CC has become an anti-Obama lever more than an anti-CC one. It will be interesting to see whether the GOP fields a pro or anti CC candidate. If it is an anti one, expect the left also to move more anti CC in response to avoid making it a decisive issue (it has been badly … Read More

      A scenario seems likely where CC does not survive the next presidential election.
      As noted above and elsewhere, resistance to CC has become an anti-Obama lever more than an anti-CC one. It will be interesting to see whether the GOP fields a pro or anti CC candidate. If it is an anti one, expect the left also to move more anti CC in response to avoid making it a decisive issue (it has been badly enough implemented that it could very difficult to continue supporting it without a significant political price if it is made a core issue), unless maybe it’s a Clinton. I
      In addition, now that both houses of congress are in the same hands, we may see an nclb re-auth, and if we do, expect it to exclude the language that so far has allowed dept of ed waivers and other cash incentives to manipulate local policy (one of which was incentive to adopt CC). If that happens we may see more states drop out. Obama would have a really difficult time vetoing a re-auth that is already 7 years overdue.
      All that said, it is still possible that a GOP administration would move back pro-CC after an election even if it ran as anti.
      I think any standards will only have a 5 to 10 year lifetime anymore. This is partly the nature of the shiny object syndrome, partly a function of testing methodology, partly a function of ‘public’ education becoming more and more a function of private industry, which has a vested interest in ‘solving’ the problems it creates.

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        Waiver language like in NCLB,Part D, Section 9401 is pretty standard in federal legislation. Obama's flagrant abuse of the waiver is not.This type of clause in the legislation is designed to accommodate unusual circumstances, whereas Obama's use under Duncan has been as a truncheon to reward states and districts that comply with federal mandates and for the purpose of driving policy, not as exceptions to it as is usual with waivers. You've raised some … Read More

        Waiver language like in NCLB,Part D, Section 9401 is pretty standard in federal legislation. Obama’s flagrant abuse of the waiver is not.This type of clause in the legislation is designed to accommodate unusual circumstances, whereas Obama’s use under Duncan has been as a truncheon to reward states and districts that comply with federal mandates and for the purpose of driving policy, not as exceptions to it as is usual with waivers.

        You’ve raised some interesting issues, Navigio, as CC applies to 2016. My sense is that CC does not resonate as a campaign issue. I think the next election will be about America’s diminishing economic clout as a world power and as it applies to the economy at home. Common Core has gained in notoriety since 2010, but it is likely to fizzle out as more states bow out or it becomes implanted. It is also a difficult area to comprehend and doesn’t lend itself well to debate. Furthermore, it is not a Republican/Democrat dynamic and it is hard for either side to score points as each side is divided on the issue. Last but not least, a new anti-CC president would not be in a position to change the policy as technically speaking it is not a national one.

        • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

          Thanks, I agree with an actual law in place there will be less need and opportunity for funky waiver behavior.
          I just think obamas waiver behavior really rubbed congress the wrong way (not only the gop) and would not be surprised to see some effort to restrict future shenanigans.
          you’re right that education is not a federal issue, but that doesnt stop them from trying to bribe people.

  2. Era 2 years ago2 years ago

    Assemblyman Tim Donnelly ran for Governor and he's against CC. But the libertarians didn't push for him, because he's registered as republican. The dems tossed in a sound byte to interfere with his chances of success, which is why he never made it to the ballot but kash did. I might be unfair to KashnKari, but I highly doubt it. All he ever said was "I'm out to beat jerry brown". … Read More

    Assemblyman Tim Donnelly ran for Governor and he’s against CC. But the libertarians didn’t push for him, because he’s registered as republican. The dems tossed in a sound byte to interfere with his chances of success, which is why he never made it to the ballot but kash did. I might be unfair to KashnKari, but I highly doubt it. All he ever said was “I’m out to beat jerry brown”. That’s it. Tim Donnelly ran to get our country back, & stated how and why. I trust Tim, like I do Ron Paul, his voting record speaks for himself. Even the libertarians are “party” challenged anymore.
    Google Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, common core. See for yourself.

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