Mike Huckabee sought to clarify his opposition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative on his Saturday Fox News show, "Huckabee." He supports the standards but is opposed to federal government involvement in education. For many Common Core critics, though, the standards are the problem.
He supported Common Core when it began, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate explained, but he does not support what Common Core has become.
"Sadly, the very label Common Core has come to be associated with things I detest," Huckabee said in his opening monologue (video below), "like agenda driven curriculum that indoctrinates instead of educates.
"I'm convinced that the term Common Core needs to disappear from the lexicon of education policy. It's a toxic term because it's come to mean things that most of us can't stomach, like top-down federal intrusion into the local schools where you live. But Common Core as it was designed had nothing to do with the federal government. It was conceived and controlled by elected governors and state school chiefs to keep the federal hands from interfering."
This would not be the first time Huckabee felt the need to clarify his position on Common Core.
On his radio show in May, Huckabee criticized the "short-sighted" opponents of Common Core, saying that "parents and people involved in their local schools should let it be known that core standards are valuable, and they're not something to be afraid of — they are something to embrace."
Later that month, though, he said on his Facebook page that the critics of Common Core misunderstood him.
"My statement on the Common Core has been misconstrued," Huckabee wrote. "While I believe such standards make sense for public schools in math and English, I support parents' freedom of choice to educate their children however they want, including homeschooling, regardless of the standards that are applied in a public school setting."
A couple of weeks later, though, he wrote a June 3 letter to Oklahoma legislators urging them to adopt Common Core. He wrote that the standards have been "near and dear to my heart" since his time as governor of Arkansas, and he found criticisms of the standards "disturbing."
"Like many of you, I've heard the argument these standards 'threaten local control' of what's being taught in Oklahoma classrooms," Huckabee wrote. "Speaking from one conservative to another, let me assure you this simply is not true. States and local school districts will determine how they want to teach kids, what curriculum to use, and which textbooks to use." [Emphasis in original.]
Besides the monologue, Huckabee devoted a lengthy segment of his show discussing Common Core with three critics of the standards: Julie Craig, a parent who began homeschooling because of her disappointment with Common Core, Carol Burris, a New York principal who once supported Common Core but is now opposed, and Ethan Young, a Tennessee high school senior whose anti-Common Core speech at a school board meeting went viral on YouTube.
While many critics of the Common Core will likely welcome Huckabee to their side, some of these critics will surely disagree with all of Huckabee's diagnosis of the problem. Huckabee appears to be critical of the implementation of the Common Core while supportive of the standards themselves.
While Huckabee says that Common Core has become a "perversion of the original goal," other critics argue that the standards themselves are part of the problem. The standards are inferior to some existing standards, they argue, and use experimental, untested teaching methods.