Senator Chuck Grassley Seeks to Defund Common Core

Sen. Charles "Chuck" Grassley (R-Iowa) is asking his colleagues to eliminate U.S. Department of Education funding used to develop or implement the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

He sent a letter Wednesday to the chair and ranking member of the subcommittee that would oversee such funding.

"We ask that the Fiscal Year 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill include language to restore state decision-making and accountability with respect to state academic content standards," Grassley began.

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The Common Core is a set of standards for K-12 education that has been adopted by most states. It has been advertised as a "state-led" intitiative, but that is far from true. The Common Core was developed by the National Governor's Association, a private organization, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. States were encouraged to adopt the standards through Race to the Top education funds. States that competed for the Race to the Top funds had to agree to adopt the standards even before they knew what the standards would be.

Grassley mentioned these issues, and more, in his letter.

"While the Common Core State Standards Initiative was initially billed as a voluntary effort between states, federal incentives have clouded the picture," Grassley wrote. "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."

Grassley sent a copy of the letter to Shane Vander Hart, communications director for American Principle Project's Preserve Innocence Initiative and a critic of the Common Core. A copy can be read Vander Hart's blog, Caffeinated Thoughts.

In his email to Vander Hart, Grassley noted that senators have until April 25 to add their name to the letter.

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