Eight Senators Join Fight Against Common Core

Eight U.S. senators have signed onto Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) fight to defund the Common Core State Standard's Initiative.

On April 16, Grassley announced a letter asking the chair and ranking member of the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the U.S. Department of Education's funding of the Common Core to require that any funds appropriated to the Department of Education not be used to develop, implement or evaluate state-level education standards, or to awards grants or contracts for development, implementation or evaluation of state-level education standards.. Senators had until last Thursday, April 25, to sign onto the letter.

Eight senators added their names to the letter: Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

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The signers are considered some of the most conservative in the Senate. Four of the signers are also some of the body's newest members. Paul and Lee joined the Senate in 2011, and Cruz and Fischer joined this year. Cruz and Paul are also considered rising stars in the Republican Party and potential presidential nominees.

Most states have agreed to follow the Common Core. They were encouraged to do so, even before they knew what the standards would be, when adoption of the Common Core was required to compete for Race to the Top funds. The letter takes issue with the fact implementation of the Common Core was done in a way to circumvent a requirement restricting the federal government from involvement in the implementation of education standards and assessments at the state level.

The letter reads, in part, "While the Common Core State Standards Initiative was initially billed as a voluntary effort between states, federal incentives have clouded the picture. Current federal law makes clear that the U.S. Department of Education may not be involved in setting specific content standards or determining the content of state assessments. Nevertheless, the selection criteria designed by the U.S. Department of Education for the Race to the Top Program provided that for a state to have any chance to compete for funding, it must commit to adopting a 'common set of K-12 standards' matching the description of the Common Core. The U.S. Department of Education also made adoption of 'college- and career-ready standards' meeting the description of the Common Core a condition to receive a state waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Race to the Top funds were also used to fund two consortiums to develop assessments aligned to the Common Core and the Department is now in the process of evaluating these assessments."

A copy of the letter, with the additional signatures, can be seen on the Caffeinated Thoughts blog.

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