Two More Governors Turning Against Common Core

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Two more state gov­er­nors have hopped on the anti-Com­mon Core band­wag­on, urg­ing either a sec­ond look at it or push­ing for out­right repeal.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert

Utah Gov­er­nor Gary Herbert

Gov. Gary Her­bert of Utah ordered his attor­ney gen­er­al to con­duct a review of the con­tro­ver­sial mul­ti-state edu­ca­tion stan­dards Thurs­day, while Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walk­er announced that he wants the state’s leg­is­la­ture to repeal the stan­dards when it recon­venes next January.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Wis­con­sin Gov­er­nor Scott Walker

Today, I call on the mem­bers of the state Leg­is­la­ture to pass a bill in ear­ly Jan­u­ary to repeal Com­mon Core and replace it with stan­dards set by peo­ple in Wis­con­sin,” Walk­er said in a state­ment report­ed by the Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal-Sen­tinel on Thurs­day. His open oppo­si­tion is a step up from the past. In Jan­u­ary he said that the stan­dards war­rant­ed reex­am­i­na­tion, but oth­er­wise Walk­er has said lit­tle about Com­mon Core at all.

A bill was intro­duced this past year seek­ing to pull Wis­con­sin out of Com­mon Core, but failed after gain­ing almost no trac­tion in the leg­is­la­ture. If Walk­er is suc­cess­ful­ly reelect­ed in Novem­ber, his new­ly expressed sup­port could pro­vide a repeal push with much greater momentum.

Walk­er’s announce­ment, how­ev­er, also high­light­ed con­tin­u­ing inter­nal divi­sions with­in the Repub­li­can Par­ty on edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy. State Super­in­ten­dent Tony Evers com­plained that Walk­er’s state­ments made the state’s edu­ca­tion sys­tem appear unsta­ble and chaot­ic, while state rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve Kestell said Walk­er’s state­ments were pure­ly polit­i­cal pos­tur­ing in an elec­tion year.

The idea that they’d just be able to replace the stan­dards at the begin­ning of the leg­isla­tive ses­sion is absurd,” Kestell told the Journal-Sentinel.

Her­bert’s announce­ment was less dra­mat­ic than Walk­er’s, with the focus being on giv­ing Com­mon Core a sec­ond look rather than imme­di­ate­ly seek­ing its repeal. He said Attor­ney Gen­er­al Sean Reyes would review the stan­dards to make sure they did not inor­di­nate­ly sur­ren­der Utah’s con­trol over it’s own edu­ca­tion system.

Her­bert also announced that a new web­site will allow Utah cit­i­zens to leave com­plaints about Com­mon Core for the gov­er­nor’s office, and also said he is cre­at­ing a spe­cial com­mit­tee of pol­i­cy experts who will review the stan­dards’ appro­pri­ate­ness from a high­er edu­ca­tion per­spec­tive. That review, he said, could result in any num­ber of pos­si­ble recommendations.

I don’t want to pre­sup­pose the out­come of this review, but I want to empha­size that Dr. Kendell and his team of experts may in fact rec­om­mend some stan­dards be removed, some stan­dards might be made more rig­or­ous and some stan­dards might not be changed at all,” Her­bert said dur­ing a speech Thursday.

Momen­tum has recent­ly been build­ing against Com­mon Core, par­tic­u­lar­ly on the right. South Car­oli­na, Indi­ana and Okla­homa have dropped the stan­dards com­plete­ly this year, while Mis­souri and North Car­oli­na have passed bills that keep the stan­dards in place for now, but estab­lish com­mis­sions with the pow­er to change them.

Her­bert said that he was part­ly moti­vat­ed by a hope that a detailed review could reduce ongo­ing feud­ing between Com­mon Core sup­port­ers, who describe the stan­dards as mere­ly broad goals that leave sub­stan­tial con­trol with local school dis­tricts, and oppo­nents who describe the stan­dards as a fed­er­al takeover of education.

What­ev­er has been done in the past has not resolved the dis­pute,” Her­bert said. “There’s too much ani­mus out there with the groups on all sides of the issue and it’s just time for us to kind of push the pause but­ton and say, ‘Let’s reeval­u­ate, let’s ascer­tain that we have Utah standards.’ ”