Are Trump and the GOP Finally Listening to Parents on Common Core?

March 24, 2017

by Karen R. Effrem, MD


It seems that all of the grassroots efforts to reach the Trump administration with Common Core-related concerns are finally starting to bear fruit. These concerns include Betsy DeVos’ pro-Common Core record, the disturbingly large number of Jeb Bush foundation employees and alumni staffing the U.S. Department of Education (USED), and the prominent decrease in the president’s discussion of Common Core since assuming office after he discussed it at nearly every campaign stop.

In news just released by Politico yesterday in their Morning Education update, it appears that pro-Common Core New Mexico Education Secretary Hannah Skandera has been rejected for the Deputy Secretary position precisely because she supports the standards:

SENATE GOP SCUTTLES SKANDERA NOMINATION: Wondering when those Education Department vacancies will be filled? Well, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education may still be up for grabs after the Trump administration recently reversed plans to nominate New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera for the assistant secretary job, POLITICO has learned. The administration’s decision to pull back an offer came after Republicans raised concerns about Skandera’s support for the Common Core standards. The offer appears to have been extended before Hill Republicans were consulted.

“About a dozen Republican offices were skeptical that they could ever vote yes” on Skandera because of her embrace of the standards, said a senior GOP aide. Those English and math standards are reviled by conservatives as a symbol of federal overreach. Republicans also weren’t interested in another fight over an education nominee after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ bruising confirmation process. Skandera, who sits on the governing board for the Common Core-aligned PARCC test, declined to comment.

While it is too bad that Republican senators did not take more notice of Betsy DeVos’ support of Common Core and other problems of grave concern to parents, it is heartening that they and the White House are finally beginning to respond to all of the concerns that arose during her contentious nomination fight when she was opposed by activists, parents, and teachers from all points on the political spectrum.

Let us hope this means that the positions under Mrs. DeVos will be filled by genuine opponents of both the standards and the ever metastasizing role of the federal government in education. Here are several great candidates:

Dr. Stotsky is a professor emerita of the University of Arkansas, who has said, “I would serve only to develop and implement a long-range plan for dismantling the USED.” She served on the Common Core validation committee and refused to sign off on the English standards. The standards she wrote while serving as an assistant commissioner of education in Massachusetts helped that state go from the middle of the pack to leading the nation on the NAEP test.
Dr. Evers is a Hoover Institution education expert who has been vocal in his opposition to Common Core as far back as 2011, helping to organize this national anti-Common Core manifesto. He has experience writing standards, federal policy experience, and a great understanding of competitive federalism.
Dr. Luksik has taught for over 35 years, in both regular and special education at all levels from preschool to college. She has written and evaluated curriculum and trained teachers in how to teach curriculum and in classroom management. She was an adviser to the Reagan administration and served in USED where she reviewed and evaluated education reform initiatives. She has presented all over the nation on the problems with Common Core and understands what needs to be done to unravel it.
Dr. Arnn is the president of Hillsdale College, one of the very few colleges in the nation not to take federal funds in order to avoid federal regulation and strings. Hillsdale also requires all students to study the Constitution.
Dr. Jeynes is a University of California Long Beach education professor whose research has shown that if poor and minority children come from two-parent homes, have religious involvement, are taught to read with real phonics, and are supported with real parental involvement in their schools, the achievement gap is not just lessened, it is erased, something that $2 trillion and 50 years of federal power grabs in education have failed to do.

Other encouraging signs that both the administration and Congress are starting to listen to grassroots parents include:

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore


Dr. Karen Effrem is trained as a pediatrician and serves as president of Education Liberty Watch and the executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.

Archive: Karen R. Effrem, MD

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