Common Core: 2014's Bipartisan Wedge Issue

Establishment Republicans and their pals in the press – at least until the general election campaigns begin (RINOs never learn) — are celebrating their defeats of tea party-sympathetic challengers in last Tuesday's Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio primaries.

They would be well advised to hold the champagne. At least a half-dozen victorious candidates in GOP state legislative contests in those three states, including several who defeated party-supported incumbents, discovered that the key to motivating voters on their behalf was expressing genuine and vocal opposition to the federal government's stealth imposition of the Common Core standards and testing regime in their schools.

Their success has national implications. You can rest assured that party leaders who have been doing all they can to hide from the issue, as well as all-in "Fed ed" proponent and current Republican establishment fave Jeb Bush, have noticed.

Nowhere was the anti-Common Core momentum more clear than in the Buckeye State. The entity I have dubbed ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) and its legislative leaders are visibly shaken.

Although the state's press will only acknowledge Common Core's relevance in one of Tuesday's state rep race results, a reliable longtime activist told me on Thursday that candidates' opposition to Common Core tipped the balance in their favor in four instances. My review of Stop Common Core Ohio's endorsements against actual election results confirms that contention.

The result that's impossible to ignore is Tom Brinkman's triumph over incumbent Peter Stautberg in Southwestern Ohio.

ORPINO thought they had ended "Tax Killer Tom's" political career two years ago when he lost in a comeback attempt after being term-limited from the legislature four years earlier. Heavily aided by ORPINO, two-term incumbent Stautberg dished out a 22-point drubbing.

This time around, it was different, principally because Brinkman sincerely and strongly aligned himself with anti-Common Core activists. ORPINO doubled down on its smear campaign, spending huge sums on a radio blitz and baldly false campaign literature which, among other things, hysterically implied that the supposedly "radical" Brinkman sided with Democrats on critical matters. ORPINO also claimed that he opposed a 2005 "tax cut" that was really an initially revenue-neutral restructuring which gave birth to an ugly new gross receipts tax.

Brinkman's trump card over the wishy-washy incumbent was his vocal opposition to Common Core. Stautberg claims to have not taken a position. My source calls BS on that; but in any event, convenient neutrality doesn't cut it. It instead allows force-fed "Fed ed" to become a permanent fixture of the educational landscape.

In winning by seven points on Tuesday, Brinkman engineered a 29-point turnaround from 2012, inducing palpable fear and loathing at ORPINO and among GOP legislative leaders.

Suddenly, the same people who have spent well over a year blowing off, marginalizing, and in some cases insulting concerned parents and teachers feel that they must commission a poll to see if the rest of the state is as opposed to Common Core as voters in Southwestern Ohio.

I can save them the trouble. A late-April University of Connecticut poll showed that thanks to its undemocratic imposition, only 39 percent of Americans have heard of Common Core. But of those who have, only 38 percent across all ideologies support it, while 44 percent oppose. A scant 24 percent of conservatives favor it. In the Buckeye State, Common Core polled as the number one issue of concern in the GOP primaries, even ahead of Governor John Kasich's authoritarian expansion of Medicaid.

Why oppose Common Core? Five videos posted at my home blog in March of 2013 take only 33 minutes to fully explain why. Here's a quick boil-down:

  • These are standards which have been furtively pushed onto the states — i.e., not developed by the states, as proponents claim — through de facto federal government bribes contained in the 2009 stimulus bill and through the conditional granting of No Child Left Behind waivers. State legislatures had virtually no input into Common Core's initial adoption.
  • Costly and rigid standardized national tests will force reluctant private schools, charter schools, and homeschooling parents to conform their curricula to Common Core to ensure that their students perform well on them.
  • One "feature" of Common Core is a national student data tracking system involving a reported 400-plus "data points" from pre-school through the workforce which will strip away students' and families' personal privacy. Personally identifiable and sensitive student and family data can and will be shared among government and private entities.
  • The bottom line is that Common Core strips the states of their constitutional authority over education, will end parents' ability to influence what their children are taught, and will ultimately and illegally accomplish the far left's long-time dream of giving the federal government full control over the nation's school curricula.

In the intervening year, it has become dreadfully obvious that Common Core's "standards" are a watered-down muddle of incoherence backing a curriculum which is frustrating the nation's children, infuriating their parents, and driving down test scores.