ThePulse2016 Report Card: Common Core

August 19, 2015

by Emmett McGroarty

Four years ago, Common Core was considered a “done deal,” uncontroversial and approved by Democrats and Republican leaders alike. It had been pushed into 45 states without notice to legislators and parents alike. Today, Common Core and related educational issues of local control of schools and family privacy have emerged as significant campaign issues for candidates and for a motivated network of grassroots citizens-turned activists. (a project of American Principles in Action) and New Hampshire’s Cornerstone Action are releasing our first formal report card to voters on how GOP candidates are doing in responding to the concerns of Common Core parents and the experts who have validated their concerns. We have carefully evaluated the candidates on three separate—but related—issues:

1.) Have they spoken out and acted against Common Core?

Statements opposing Common Core must acknowledge that the standards are of low-quality, fail to meet the expectations of high-performing countries, and contain language that controls the curriculum and instructional methods used in the classroom. Recognition of these deficiencies is central in determining whether a candidate’s actions have been a sincere effort to replace the Common Core with high standards or to simply rebrand it under another name.

2.) Do they understand and have they made a specific commitment to protect state and local control of education from further federal intrusion?

In particular, we are looking for candidates who understand how the federal government intrudes onto state decision-making and who advocate for structural changes to prevent such intrusions. Moreover, the candidate must understand that the intended division of power between the federal government and the state is meant to ensure that people can shape state and local policies. He must understand how the breakdown of that division destroyed the safeguards that could have, and likely would have, prevented Common Core.

3.) What efforts has the candidate made to protect student and family privacy interests against the rising demands of industry and central planners for more personal student data?

Such interests include the right of parents to control what type of information is collected (e.g., social and emotional information, behavioral history, family information), who may collect such information, and with whom that information may be shared. Reliance on the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA) to protect student data is no longer a sufficient argument for calls against expanding student-data systems. A 2009 executive order allowed regulatory changes to be made to weaken the law, such as the removal of language requiring parental consent, without Congressional consent. A candidate must understand how this is symptomatic of a larger issue: the federal executive’s continued abuse of the intended system of governance in order to push its favored policies and practices into the states.

With regard to the second and third questions, we give outsize weight to whether a candidate recognizes that a prohibition on the federal executive branch is often ineffectual if the intended beneficiary has no means of enforcement. Federal law prohibited the federal government from its activities to propagate Common Core and the Common Core testing. Moreover, the Race to the Top program itself exceeded the authorities in the Stimulus bill that funded it. And the Administration’s regulatory changes under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) were unfaithful to the underlying federal statute. Yet, none of those laws provided either states or individuals remedies or an accessible, or for that matter any, enforcement mechanism. Except for the quixotic hope of speedy Congressional oversight, that left the federal executive branch as the judge and jury of its own actions.

We have made allowances for what a candidate is in a position to do: governors have played a direct role in implementing, or refusing to implement, Common Core directly; senators have either seriously fought to restrict the federal intrusion in No Child Left Behind or have acquiesced to the federal power grab; and non-office holding candidates have only been able to make strong, general statements, which is a good first step. As the campaign marches on, however, this wears thin, and follow-on statements on the particulars are needed from all candidates.

The Common Core is a touchstone for Republicans, and they should be making a bigger deal of it. People are fed up with the Common Core and the terribly expensive and overbearing Common Core tests. They view the federal government’s involvement in education policy as a colossal failure that has harmed, not helped, children. The Common Core set of issues gives candidates a chance to impress the voter that they know what they are talking about, are serious about doing it, and will fight to get the job done.

Rather than championing the big issue and truly demonstrating their presidential mettle, some candidates are making it into a small issue. They are parsing out the issue in order to voice opposition to some aspect of the problem but fail to address the overall concerns of parents. These candidates actually favor Common Core, they do not understand the issue, or they hope that the small approach will save them from offending Common Core proponents.

We have evaluated the candidates on each of these issues and then averaged the score for an overall grade. In each case we have suggested what candidates could do if they wish to improve their grade.

We hope that this Common Core Report Card will serve as a helpful resource for voters, candidates, and political reporters.

Emmett McGroarty is the director of APP Education.

Archive: Emmett McGroarty

13 comments on “ThePulse2016 Report Card: Common Core”

  • JaunceyWatsonAlvarado says:

    EdwardPerkins SuznTexas OlgaJones HermanVogel

  • RuthAnnRose says:

    “Department of Education:  Educational opportunity thrives on choice, ingenuity, and diversity; the Department of Education squelches all three. Largely created as an outgrowth of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, the Department of Education has existed in its current form since 1980. Despite its stated aim to bring equal access to all, it has failed to close the gap between low-income communities and other communities, and instead has led to one-size-fits-all solutions imposed on millions of students with differing educational needs. Eliminating the Department of Education not only restores the states’ constitutional power and saves taxpayers billions of dollars, it returns decision-making to parents and local communities, and liberates students and teachers from a failed top-down approach. The growing federal role in education spurred by the Education Department has led to perverse mandates such as Common Core and counterproductive laws such as No Child Left Behind.
    We should repeal every word of Common Core. And, as President, I will direct the Secretary of Education to immediately end the federal government’s mandates that seek to force states to adopt this failed attempt at a universal curriculum.
    Even more broadly, we need to get the federal government out of education altogether. The Department of Education has the third largest discretionary budget in the federal government, and it provides 10 percent of funding for K-12 education. Yet, with that 10 percent share, it imposes significant requirements on states and schools, forcing them to submit to federal bureaucrats. Education has traditionally been a state matter; the people closest to students know them best – parents and teachers know far more than Washington bureaucrats – and we are already witnessing remarkable reforms by state and local governments to increase school choice and resist Common Core standards. We need to restore parent and student choice and remove federal barriers to children’s success.A Cruz Administration will eliminate the programs in the Department of Education that are wasteful, ineffective, and fail to achieve better student outcomes. We will perform a careful review of remaining programs to assess how best to return those responsibilities to state and local communities.
    The lion’s share of K-12 funding will be block granted to the states, including Title I funding and the Individuals with Disabilities Education program, while the Indian Education program and Federal Impact Aid will be transferred to existing departments. Pell Grants will also remain intact and can be transferred to the Treasury Department. This will result in higher quality education, more tailored to local needs, at a lower cost.  The D.C. Public School Funding and the Opportunity Scholarship Program will persist because Washington D.C. is under the federal purview of Congress and it is constitutionally appropriate for those programs to continue to be overseen at a federal level. But those programs can be run by another department, and the Education Department can be shut down.
    Ineffective Spending:   Since the Department’s inception in 1980, the federal government has spent nearly $1.5 trillion on education.
        It cost the U.S. $151,000 per student to put the graduating class of 2009 through public school; adjusted for inflation, that is nearly three times the amount we spent on the graduating class of 1970.
        Despite this outrageous spending, education outcomes have either stagnated or declined. The nation’s report card, first administered in 1992, shows that the disparity between white and black 12th grade reading scores has increased – showing African American students half a grade further behind their peers, and totaling a nearly three grade-level difference.

  • SuzieShawn says:

    Rick Santorum should have an At+ on this reporting. He has publicly come out against Common Core, and has said on numerous occasions that education should be controlled by the parents, as they are the consumers.  He has also stated that we need to get rid of the Department of Education and return the money and the power to the state and local governments.  He said that any time that government controls education, it is a bad thing because then parents lose the right to decide what is best for their child.  He strongly believes in allowing parents to make the decisions about education for their child, whether that be in the public, private, or homeschool setting. He believes that parental involvement in education is vitally important, and he recognizes that every child learns differently, and that different approaches will succeed with different types of learners.

  • SuznTexas says:

    @Ed  Thanks for sharing this video. I had forgotten some of the facts you highlighted. I wonder if you are familiar with the work of Alice Linahan (, Texans Against Common Core) or Donna Garner (a well-versed TX educator who writes several blogs, including Texas Legislative Watch)? These ladies are two fierce warriors in the fight to save our kids from government indoctrination programs such as Common Core and C-SCOPE (the so-called lite version of CC).

  • EdwardPerkins says:

    SuznTexas OlgaJones HermanVogel You are so right in pointing out that Paul supported Sen. McConnell when there was a true conservative running against McConnel in 2012.  I will never forget nor forgive Sen. Paul for supporting McConnell.  He displayed big time his true political colors.

  • EdwardPerkins says:

    conservative and proud Whoever made the above statement is either a zealot for Walker or is totally ignorant of what Walker has said and done concerning Common Core in WI.  First, Walker has said in Ohio several months ago that he repealed Common Core – NOT true.  He hasn’t even tried to cut off any of the WI budget funds for the tests required by Common Core.  I attended 7 out of the 8 statewide WI hearings.  I have testified numerous times against C.C.  I and others did everything except hit Walker over the head with a 2×4 and we got nowhere with Walker.  He listened to his college grads in his office that were pro-common core and Sen. Luther Olson who is bought by the teachers union.  He refused to listen to those opposing it.  Walker came into office in January 2010 and could have put a knife into the heart of C.C. but he didn’t.  He remained silent except for calling for the statewide hearings above.  That he did do.  But he played politics with C.C. and his track record shows he thought it was the PC thing to do and so today we have C.C. in WI.  One school district, the Germantown School District has refused Common Core and was recently served with the threat of a lawsuit by our WI Dept. of Public Instruction.  They are fighting this lawsuit.  Walker did do a good thing in passing Act 10 which took away a lot of the teachers union power in WI.  But that is about all he has done.
    Further Walker has not totally defunded Planned Parenthood in WI as so many like to say.  Take a look at this years budget and you will find money budgeted for P.P. in it, most of which are part of a Federal program.  However he could have said NO to these dollars if he was truly opposed to P.P.  Now we have 3 Assembly bills in process which if all passed will be a knife in the gut of P.P.

  • SuznTexas says:

    OlgaJones HermanVogel  He may have tied Cruz in this report but look at the big picture. The difference is that Paul betrayed his base by endorsing McConnell, who was lagging in his re-election efforts. Paul saved his sorry butt and America is paying the price. Paul has also espoused amnesty. One report will not redeem his betrayals.

  • conservative and proud says:

    After all Scott Walker has done for us and education, how dare you give such a rating.  He opposes Common Core, has said so, and has stood up to the unions, the teachers, had to face a recall election, and beat the liberals.  I do not accept your crazy ratings, and we see none not one, of these other candidates who has done anything near what Scott Walker has done on education or on Planned Parenthood, having cut off their state funding even before this crazy harvesting they have now discovered Planned Parenthood doing. No other candidate can compare with Scott Walker on education.

  • Gingerdr says:

    I would of given Perry and F-. Cscope, International Baccalaureate all are in Texas on his watch. His education staff was so liberal ( met with them personally). Wasn’t it Perry in the last presidential debates that said he did not know anything about education?

  • Oklahoma Mom says:

    Democratic Comparisons please

  • Ed says:

    A brief video of info, insights, history of, and questions about Education

  • OlgaJones says:

    HermanVogel I like Cruz too, but don’t ignore the fact that Paul got the same grade. You could just as easily have said “Paul wins,” LOL.

  • HermanVogel says:

    Results are in, Cruz wins,,,Like that guy.

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