President Trump gave a great speech last night. Over and over, he has gone out of his way to prove himself as a man of his word: what he promised during the campaign, he is going to deliver, and for the most part that is what he told the American people in his first address to Congress.
But in his non-State of the Union address last night, two words that were a core part of his campaign commitment to the American people were curiously absent: Common Core.
Ending Common Core was one of Trump’s earliest and most persistent campaign promises. In his very first announcement speech at Liberty University in June of 2015, Trump made a commitment — even using Common Core as a club to hit the then-alleged frontrunner Jeb Bush: “End Common Core. Common Core should — it is a disaster. Bush is totally in favor of Common Core. I don’t see how he can possibly get the nomination. He’s weak on immigration. He’s in favor of Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can’t do it.”
Before the first vote at the caucuses in Iowa, Trump launched his campaign video on education, headlined by the candidate himself: “I will end Common Core. It’s a disaster.”
In his whirlwind final campaign stops on November 7, he reiterated that promise clearly. In Scranton, Pa., he promised to “protect school choice and end Common Core,” and at the DeVos Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., he proclaimed, “We will provide school choice and put an end to Common Core.”
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Yet in last night’s speech, President Trump only talked about an equally important principle — educational choice:
Education is the civil rights issue of our time.
I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.
Betsy DeVos was an ardent part of the Jeb Bush-wing of the GOP on education. Yes, she has perfunctorily renounced her prior support for Common Core, but it is not clear she understands how the Common Core standards attack the principle of choice in education. Choice is an important principle, but choice does not really exist if if the content of education is decided from the federal government on down.
It is imperative that the Department of Education follow through on Trump’s campaign promise to eliminate Common Core if he indeed wants parents to be in control once again of their children’s education.
And it won’t happen unless President Trump does on this — one of his earliest and most oft-repeated campaign promises — what he has done on so much else: take the matter personally in hand and make it happen.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore