PJ Media

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.

As would be expected of a “progressive” contraption conceived in back rooms, it virtually “eliminate(s) American children’s core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.”

No radical-driven “reform” would be complete without heavy doses of deconstructive indoctrination. Examples of horrid items which have surfaced include Holocaust denial, portrayals of Barack Obama’s opponents as racists, presumptive submission to the state, and the “clear” human-caused “impacts” of “climate change,” now known as “climate disruption,” which yours truly prefers to call “globaloney.”

Several Common Core-approved texts subject high school students to pornographic passages which are so graphic and offensive that government officials have prevented outraged parents from reciting them aloud at public meetings, and newspapers have refused to publish them. But they’re okay for 14 and 15 year olds to read and discuss?

Common Core supporters who thought they had their fixed game in the bag but now find themselves losing are responding as arrogant people who have run out of arguments invariably do — with demonization and brute force.

Those like Education Secretary Arne Duncan who believe that the opposition is just a bunch of “white suburban moms” who are upset that “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were” can’t explain why Huntsville, Alabama, which has the highest concentration of degreed engineers in the country, is a hotbed of anti-Common Core activism.

Fever-swamp leftists who characterize Common Core’s center-right opposition as a “wingnut … plot to destroy public schools” have failed to reconcile that assertion with the fact that “wingnuts” like the Chicago Teachers Union and two-thirds of Parent Teacher Association survey respondents in New York oppose it, largely because of the same federal intrusions to which the liberty movement objects.

Over their parent’s objections, school officials are routinely forcing kids to take standardized tests which are supposed to be optional. Teachers who refuse to sign agreements not to share test contents with parents, i.e., their customers, are being suspended or fired. Officials are treating parents who dare to speak out at public meetings like common criminals.

This garbage has got to go. The default assumption has to be that anyone who still supports Common Core is uninformed, bought and sold, or an unapologetic statist. The road to improved school standards is through decentralizing education so that parents and localities once again have control over what and how their children are taught. That worked quite well 50 years ago, when the average high school graduate was measurably more knowledgeable than today’s grads, three-quarters of whom are not ready for college.

In Ohio, that will mean a sea change in the go-along, Kasich-subservient legislature, which appears at long last to be heading in that direction. Kasich is a friend of Jeb Bush who nominally supports Common Core, but he also has 2016 presidential aspirations. Lawmakers need to pass repeal and force Kasich to unequivocally commit.

Mr. “Stand for Something,” who has surely noted that Common Core has become 2014’s bipartisan wedge issue, just might be cynical enough to do a 180. If so, we’ll take it.