Common Core Report Card on GOP Candidates

Common Core Report: Grading the 2016 GOP Candidates is a report released by American Principles in Action, ThePulse2016, and Cornerstone Policy Research Action.  This report provides information about the issues and the positions or most of the major Republican candidates.  It also gives them a letter grade for each of three issues and an overall grade.  The three issues are 1) Ending the Common Core System, 2) Protecting state local decision making, and 3) Protecting child and family privacy.  These issues that served as the basis for evaluating the candidates are elaborated on in the Executive Summary of the report.  The text of the Executive Summary is provided later in this article.

Here’s the report card from the report.


From Common Core Report: Grading the 2016 GOP Candidates

Whether you agree with the grades presented here or not, it may be a good starting point as you evaluate candidates for yourself.  You are encouraged to download and read the actual report.  It provides further information about each candidate and their position, as best it may be determined, on the three issues.

Permission has been granted for text from the report to be published on Stop Common Core in Washington State.  The Executive Summary from he report is going to be published here as a start.  As time goes on, other sections of the report may be published since the report provides excellent background information about some issues related to the Common Core.

You can download the full report by clicking on Common Core Report: Grading the 2016 GOP Candidates.

Executive Summary

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. First, 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. Second, 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. Third, 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 outsized 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.

For the full report, including a page-long explanation of each candidates grade, and an appendix that explains the issues, go here. We hope that this Common Core Report Card will be clarifying for voters first of all, for candidates, and for political reporters.



Washington Post Reveals New Evidence of Jeb Bush Joint Effort with Obama on Common Core

This article is a good companion article to the one posted yesterday.  Jeb Bush has supported and promoted the Common Core for years now in very visible and not so visible ways.  With his presidential campaign he seems to be trying to distance himself from appearing to support and promote the Common Core.  One really needs to question, has he really and sincerely changed his position or is it that he really and sincerely wants to be president and is trying to appear to have changed a politically toxic position?

Karen R. Effrem, MD , Executive Director of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Inc., and President of Education Liberty Watch, has been writing some great articles related to the candidates and the recent GOP debate.  She has given permission for reposting the article below that first appeared on the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition website.

Washington Post Reveals New Evidence of Jeb Bush Joint Effort with Obama on Common Core
Karen R. Effrem, MD

Many thanks to Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog for confirming and expanding the detail of our previous posts about Jeb Bush’s close working relationship with the Obama White House to spread the cancer of Common Core throughout the country:


It is also now very evident that Bush’s effort to blame Obama for the opposition to Common Core was purely a cynical political move.  And the same is true of Bush’s phony federalism claims in the August 6th GOP debate that he does not support federal involvement in standards and curriculum.

The Strauss post includes a tweet by former Obama administration aid Dan Pfeiffer thanking Bush for his help to expand Common Core throughout the nation:


This coincides with the revelation of the 2013 Bush email exchange with Arne Duncan where Duncan asked for guidance on how to deal with Governor Rick Scott’s similarly politically motivated move to pull Florida out of the federally funded and supervised PARCC testing consortium:

Now there are several new pieces of evidence showing that fraud.  Buzzfeed found emails between Bush and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan showing both Bush’s stature in controlling and implementing Common Core in Florida and across the nation as well as Governor Rick Scott’s true intentions to merely change the name of Common Core instead of getting rid of it in order to be re-elected. The key phrase in Bush’s reply to Duncan’s request for advice is that Scott was “fear[ful] of the rebellion” for his re-election, but apparently not enough to really do something, because as Bush describes and history shows, all he did most likely with Bush’s advice, was “stop using the term common core but keep the standards.” (Emphasis added).

During Scott’s 2014 campaign, Bush tried to join in the deception that Common Core had been removed from Florida, but actually spilled the beans and admitted that the changes to the Common Core standards were not significant:


In addition, Bush’s campaign ad for Scott did not mention Common Core or standards at all.

The Strauss piece also contained some excellent quotes of President Obama praising Bush in 2011 for his work on the corporate Common Core education reform:

This isn’t the first time the Obama administration has praised Jeb Bush for his education policies. In fact, on March 4, 2011, Obama himself shared a stage with Bush at Miami Central High School. Bush said he was honored to welcome Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, whom he thanked for his “commitment and service to our country,” and Bush said he agreed with Obama on the importance of school reform:
“Mr. President, as you have said, education achievement is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. It is an issue of national priority.”
Obama then praised Bush as a “champion” of school reform, saying:
We are also honored to be joined here today by another champion of education reform, somebody who championed reform when he was in office, somebody who is now championing reform as a private citizen — Jeb Bush. (Applause.) And we are grateful — we’re grateful for him being here. Aside from being a former governor of this great state, Jeb, of course is best known as the brother of Marvin Bush. (Laughter.) Apparently the rest of the family also did some work back in Washington back in the day. (Laughter.) The truth is I’ve gotten to know Jeb because his family exemplifies public service. And we are so grateful to him for the work that he’s doing on behalf of education. So, thank you, Jeb.

This is all the more evidence that Jeb Bush completely supports the implementation of Common Core by whatever means necessary, that his claims of educational federalism are completely hollow,  that he will do or say whatever it takes to win the nomination, regardless of the facts and the truth, and that if Jeb Bush is the 2016 Republican nominee, there will be no difference between him and Hillary Clinton on Common Core and the unconstitutional federal control of education.



In GOP Debate Jeb Bush Continues Deceptive Statements on Common Core & FedEd While Rubio Clearly Opposes Federal Instrusion

At this point there are a lot of presidential candidates.  Education is going to be an issue in the presidential campaign.  Some candidates have clearly taken a position on issues like the Common Core State Standards, some seem to have changed their position to curry political favor, and some may be seen as being deceptive in their position since what they are saying does not reflect the record of their actions.  It is important to look beyond the surface of statements candidates make.

Karen R. Effrem, MD , Executive Director of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Inc., and President of Education Liberty Watch, has been writing some great articles related to the candidates and the recent GOP debate.  She has given permission for reposting the article below that first appeared on the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition website.

In GOP Debate Jeb Bush Continues Deceptive Statements on Common Core & FedEd While Rubio Clearly Opposes Federal Instrusion

Karen R. Effrem, MD

The highly anticipated and widely watched Fox News GOP primary debate contained one major exchange on Common Core that occurred between two of the top-tier presidential candidates from Florida, former Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio.  There is a transcript available and here is the video:
Bush’s responses on this critical issue continue to be problematic from several perspectives.  First, while it is nice that he said that he did not agree with US Secretary Arne Duncan’s statement that the opposition to Common Core is mostly from a “fringe group of critics,” that is a fairly recent change from his venomous attacks against parents and teachers that disagree with him before he made his presidential aspirations publicly known:

Keynote Speech
at his Foundation for Excellence in Education Summit 10/17/13:
“I understand there are those opposed to the standards. But what I want to hear from them is more than just opposition. I want to hear their solutions for the hodgepodge of dumbed-down state standards that have created group mediocrity in our schools.
Criticisms and conspiracy theories are easy attention grabbers. (Emphasis added).”

Interview in the Wall Street Journal
(12/1/14) as Quoted in FSCCC Article Potential Bush III “Has Lost His Patience” with We Lowly Common Core Critics (12/5/14)
Instead of trying to deal with the myriad logical academic, developmental, psychological, and privacy problems of the Common Core system, as stated in a recent Wall Street Journal interview reported in Ben Shapiro’s Truth Revolt, he had another of what Michelle Malkin had described as a “Common Core snit fit.”  Jeb whined that he has “lost [his] patience,” describing to the Journal, “an unwillingness of special interests to improve public education.”
The Wall Street Journal further reported:
“He reiterated his support for higher academic standards–whether they are the Common Core national standards or other equally rigorous benchmarks–and for testing to measure whether students are meeting them.  ‘If you don’t measure, you really don’t care,’ he said.”


Secondly, despite his protestations about being against federal overreach, he has supported the actions of his father and brother to greatly expand the federal role in education via the World Declaration on Education for All and America 2000 (George HW Bush) that led to the federal mandate of statewide standards and tests for the first time in American history and No Child Left Behind (George W Bush) that has given us the federal annual testing mandate and data collection.  Jeb also worked with Arne Duncan to support Race to the Top, still supports the standards incorrectly portraying them as high without documentation,  is in support of the heinous Every Child Achieves Act, and has tried to tell Republican activists ignorantly or deceptively  that the federal overreach into standards is fixed:

Details provided in the list by American Principles Project show how the prohibition on federal involvement with standards are completely false.  This is especially important because presidential candidate Jeb Bush is perpetuating the falsehood that the prohibitions against federal control of standards are real.  In the following audio clip from a conference call with Alabama Republicans, Bush bragged about how he got his good buddy Lamar Alexander to put this prohibition in the Senate bill (listen starting at 2:32).

The problem is that this type of prohibition was already in federal law in three places.  That did not stop the current administration from bribing and blackmailing states to adopt Common Core.  In addition, neither the old nor the new language contains any enforcement mechanism for the states that are coerced or bribed.  Either Jeb Bush is ignorant of this situation or he is knowingly participating in the deception.  Neither situation reflects well on him, especially since he is running for president and portrays himself as such an education guru.

On this point, Bush is really no different than Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who as a US senator was on the conference committee that gave us No Child Left Behind and recently supported Common Core at a campaign event.


Finally, Jeb Bush, knowing how unpopular it is, tried to deflect away from Common Core and talk about his education record while governor of Florida mentioning his third grade retention policies and the better reading scores of minority fourth grade students.  What people do not seem to understand is that of course the scores would be better if his policies required the removal and retention of those students scoring lowest because they were removed from the pool of students tested. There also is no evidence that retention is helpful and some that it is harmful.  He also somehow failed to mention that high school ACT scores declined in Florida under his watch and have not significantly improved, being significantly below the national average in 2013 and ranking 47th out of the 50 states.

Marco Rubio did an excellent job of clearly and succinctly explaining the problem with Common Core and federal involvement in standards:

“We do need curriculum reform. And it should happen at the state and local level. That is where educational policy belongs, because if a parent is unhappy with what their child is being taught in school, they can go to that local school board or their state legislature, or their governor and get it changed.

Here’s the problem with Common Core. The Department of Education, like every federal agency, will never be satisfied. They will not stop with it being a suggestion. They will turn it into a mandate. In fact, what they will begin to say to local communities is: “You will not get federal money unless you do things the way we want you to do it.” And they will use common core or any other requirement that exists nationally to force it down the throats of our people and our states.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee also said he opposed federal involvement in education:

“And the fact is there are a lot of things happening at the federal level that are absolutely beyond the jurisdiction of the Constitution. This is power that should be shifted back to the states, whether it’s the EPA, there is no role at the federal level for the Department of Education.”

Unfortunately, many question Huckabee’s sincerity on opposition to Common Core given his multiple statements on both sides of that issue as described by Andrew Johnson in National Review:

But the rising concern over Common Core is one challenge Huckabee will have to face that he didn’t have to worry about in 2008. While never an outright champion of Common Core, Huckabee has publicly offered support for the proposal in the past. He has praised the standards for having been developed by governors and state education officials. In 2013, he sent a letter to Oklahoma state lawmakers ahead of a vote that would dump Common Core, encouraging them “to resist any attempt to delay implementation” of the standards. And last year, the Washington Post reported that Huckabee urged an organization that helped develop the standards to “rebrand” Common Core, because the name had become “toxic.”

Huckabee was and Bush still is listed on a website as in favor of Common Core that mock opponents of the standards and was trying to convince Louisiana legislators to not repeal the standards that said, “Unicorns are not real. Neither are most of the things you have heard about the Common Core State Standards.”  Huckabee later had his name taken off the list apparently to give the appearance that he now opposes the standards, but major activists like Shane Vander Hart were still skeptical. Here is another example of contradictory statements coming from Huckabee:


None of the other candidates were really given questions about education to show what they know, believe or would do about this critical issue.Despite crowing by Bush campaign surrogates, no major pundit thought he had a stellar or break-out performance.  In fact, The Hill called him a loser in the debate, as did several other sources, The Fox News Special Report panel both right after and the next night barely mentioned him.

This is only the first debate, so hopefully there will be many more opportunities to discuss Common Core and what the federal role in education should be.  Please stay tuned!

Common Core Presentation in Gig Harbor

You are invited to attend the scheduled presentation about the Common Core State Standards.  The scheduled presentation is posted on the website calendar along with other related events.  Below is an image of the flyer about the presentations.  Click here to download a copy of the flyer.

rottenappleCommon Core State Standards: What are they and why should I care?
A Presentation Addressing

–What are the Common Core State Standards
–Who developed the standards
–Washington State’s involvement/commitment
Loss of Local Control
Opt Out of the Assessments
Where to learn more

Gig Harbor

Thursday, August 13
6:30 p.m.

page2Gig Harbor Librarypage1
4424 Point Fosdick Drive W.
Gig Harbor, WA 98335

The Common Core State Standards and related issues are non-partisan issues directly or indirectly affecting every student, parent, and citizen in the State of Washington. The issues are not a matter of Republican vs Democrat, right vs left, conservative vs liberal, red vs. blue. The issues are a matter of what is right vs wrong.

J.R. Wilson has 30 plus years experience working in public education in California, Georgia, Wyoming, and Washington. In his 20 years of classroom experience, he has taught every grade kindergarten through sixth grade, algebra in middle school, and high school algebra and geometry. He has also been a state department curriculum specialist, staff development coordinator, and elementary principal. As a team member he has been involved in writing science and math standards as well as reviewing math standards. He has been on the Executive Committee for Where’s the Math? He started following the development of Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in early 2009 and participated in the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math’s three reviews of the standards. He is one of four founders of Truth in American Education.