Common Core Report

Emmett McGroarty,
Director of Education, American Principles in Action, and
Ann Marie Banfield,
Education Liaison, Cornerstone Policy Research

EDITION: August 2015

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Contents

1

Contributors

2

With Contributions From

3

Executive Summary

4

The Need for a Scorecard

6

The Public-Private Partnership

7

Common Core System

16

The Common Core Standards Lock Children Into an Inferior Education

17

The Common Core Pushback

21

Making Big Ideas Into Small Ideas: The GOP Tendency

22

What We Left Out

27

The Scorecard

28

Candidate Statements and Actions

31

Jeb Bush
Ben Carson
Chris Christie
Ted Cruz
Carly Fiorina
Lindsey Graham
Mike Huckabee
Bobby Jindal
John Kasich
Rand Paul
Rick Perry
Marco Rubio
Rick Santorum
Donald Trump
Scott Walker

31
34
34
36
38
40
41
43
46
47
48
50
53
54
55

CONTRIBUTORS

www.americanprinciplesinaction.com

www.thepulse2016.com

www.nhcornerstone.org

VIEW THE MOST CURRENT EDITION OF THE SCORECARD

WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM
Emmett McGroarty, Director of Education, American Principles in Action and founder of
TruthinAmericanEducation.com
Ann Marie Banfield, Cornerstone Policy Research Action
Jane Robbins, senior fellow, American Principles in Action
Erin Tuttle, Hoosiers Against Common Core
Heidi Huber, Ohioans Against Common Core
Shane Vander Hart, founder of CaffeinatedThoughts.com and contributor on
ThePulse2016.com
Kristen Lombard, founder, Resounding Books PAC
Terri Timmecke, Stop Common Core Louisiana

Emmett McGroarty is director of the education initiative at American Principles in
Action. He leads its effort to defend parental rights and to ensure that they have a say in
what their children learn and who teaches it to them. He is also one of four founders
of truthinamericaneducation.com, a nationwide information-sharing network of individuals
and organizations that sheds light on the Common Core system. Mr. McGroarty is coauthor of the primers, Controlling Education from the Top: Why Common Core Is Bad for
America and Cogs in the Machine: Big Data, Common Core, and National Testing, both of
which were published by Pioneer Institute. His other written works have been published
by, among others, Breitbart, Christian Post, Crisis Magazine, Daily Caller, New York Post,
Public Discourse, The Blaze, The Examiner, Townhall Magazine, ThePulse 2016, Washington
Times, U.S. News & World Report, and USA Today. Mr. McGroarty received an AB
(philosophy major) from Georgetown University and a JD from Fordham School of Law.
Ann Marie Banfield, is a volunteer for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire where she
serves as the Education Liaison. She is a graduate of Franklin University in Columbus Ohio
where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Business Administration. She began researching
“education” over a decade ago. Her work involves testifying before the New Hampshire
Legislature on education legislation where her focus is on academic excellence, literacy and
parental rights.

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.
ThePulse2016.com (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. 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 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 is 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.
1. The Need for a Scorecard
The Common Core wave swept over America with little notice. Long before the Standards
were developed, private entities developed the plan to push them into the states. Then, as
President-elect Obama was preparing to take office, they convinced his education team to
make it part of the $1 trillion economic stimulus effort that had bi-partisan billing as being
necessary to save America from economic and fiscal catastrophe.
The strategy underlying the Common Core initiative rested on the No Child Left Behind
structure of standards-based education. Accordingly, significant changes in a state’s
standards would, if necessary to ensure alignment, lead to changes in the state’s
assessments and curriculum. The intent to have such alignment is well documented.1 In
addition, it is a matter of common sense: if you have standards-based education, then of
course standardized tests and curriculum should be aligned to those standards.2
Initially, 48 governors signed onto the concept of developing a common set of K-12
curriculum standards.3 However, as the Common Core train gathered speed, parents and
policymakers started to realize the significance of the attendant policy and academic
changes. They started pushing back against those changes. Within a few years, the

pushback had become a true national movement. By the end of 2014, potential presidential
candidates realized that the Common Core had grave defects and was a political liability.
As Sen. Paul said in 2014, “I’m saying that that the hypothetical candidate that’s for
Common Core probably doesn’t have much chance of winning in a Republican primary.”4
Just as the Common Core wave swept over America unnoticed by citizen and legislator
alike, politicians have vastly underappreciated the pushback against it. It has become a
true national cause fueled by fact, citizen passion and parental love. This comes at a time
when 60% of Americans (68% of Republicans) think education is on the wrong track
versus 32% (27% of Republicans) who think it is on the right track. Moreover, 77% of
Americans (79% of Republicans, 73% of Democrats, and 83% of Independents) have a dim
view of the federal government’s performance in K-12 education.5
Now, almost every GOP candidate opposes Common Core or at least criticizes how it was
pushed into the states. But, as Joy Pullmann discussed last December, the content and
consequences of their policy views vary greatly.6 For example, in stating his opposition to
Common Core, a candidate might merely mean the federal government should not have
incentivized the adoption of the national standards. But does the candidate believe the
standards are of poor quality? Does the candidate recognize the nexus between the poor
quality and the perversions of the constitutional process through which the Common Core
was foisted on the states? Does the candidate have policy prescriptions for preventing
future federal overreach? Does the candidate believe that all would have been fine if the
federal government, the Common Core owners, and the state bureaucracies had done a
better job of “selling” the program to parents? Does the candidate support parents in their
battle to reclaim control of education policy-making? Does the candidate recognize the
implications to student and family privacy and parental rights inherent in massive amounts
of data collection and sharing?
2. The Public-Private Partnership: How Private Entities Developed the
Common Core and Enlisted the Federal Government to Drive It Into the States
Within a few short months in 2010, the vast majority of states committed to the Common
Core and its attendant system of policy changes. This happened as a result of the heavy
hand of the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and its responsiveness to the private

entities that drove the process. The Standards were pushed into the states with little, if
any, notice to parents and other citizens and in a way that circumvented the usual checks
and balances in the constitutional structure. Understanding how that happened is crucial
to understanding what’s wrong with American education and why government does not
work as intended.
Two private organizations – the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of
Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) – developed, and own, the standards. They also have a
copyright on them.7 It is because of the seminal involvement of NGA and CCSSO that
Common Core proponents proclaim that it is a state-led initiative. The reality, though, is far
from that.
Those entities were, and are, merely private trade associations acting without a grant of
authority from any state. They developed the Common Core in response to massive private
funding, most notably from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.8 From the Gates
Foundation alone, NGA, its partners, and Student Achievement Partners – another private
entity heavily involved in advancing the Common Core -- have accepted an estimated
$147.9 million for a variety of purposes, $32.8 million of which is expressly earmarked to
advance Common Core.9 Overall the Gates Foundation spent, as of 2013, an estimated
$173.5 million in advancing the Common Core.10 To date, it has spent far more than that.
The Gates foundation’s footprint on education policy-making is enormous. It has funded a
wide range of other entities that includes, but is not limited to, National Association of State
Boards of Education, Education Commission of the States, PTA associations, Military Child
Education Coalition, Council of State Governments, National Writing Project, National
Council of Teachers of English, American Association of School Administrators, American
Federation of Teachers Educational Foundation, National Education Association

Foundation for the Improvement of Education, American Legislative Exchange Council, and
WestEd.11 In furtherance of the NGA Common Core product, the Gates Foundation has even
funded state entities including the Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and
Pennsylvania departments of education, as well as local education offices in Indiana, Ohio,
and New Mexico. The Gates funding footprint extends to the College Board – owner of the
SAT and Advanced Placement tests -- to which Gates has provided over $32 million in
funding since 2001. In fact, the College Board’s president was one of the architects and
chief writers of the Common Core and, upon his appointment by the College Board, stated
his intention to align the SAT to the Common Core.12
The plan was to create a national education system of common standards, national
assessments aligned to the standards, and teacher and school evaluations tied to the
assessments. In late 2008, with President-elect Obama preparing to take office, those
entities, along with their partner Achieve, Inc., published their education transition plan,
Benchmarking for Success.13 It encouraged the federal government to provide funding to
states to, among other things:
“[u]pgrade state standards by adopting a common core of
internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts for
grades K-12 . . .”
• “ensure that textbooks, digital media, curricula, and assessments are
aligned” to the standards
• “offer a range of tiered incentives to make the next stage of the journey
easier, including increased flexibility in the use of federal funds and in
meeting federal educational requirements . . . ”
• “revise state policies for recruiting, preparing, developing, and
supporting teachers and school leaders to reflect the human capital
practices of top performing nations and states around the world.”14

These ideas served as the basis of USED’s Race to the Top grant competition program -which USED funded with money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of
2009, PL 111-5, enacted on February 17, 2009 (the “Stimulus Bill”). The Stimulus Bill
created a $4.35 billion earmark for states “that have made significant progress” in meeting

four education-reform objectives, including taking steps to improve state standards and
enhancing the quality of academic assessments.15 Thus, contrary to what many politicians
and Common Core proponents claim, the Obama Administration did not “hijack” the
Common Core. Rather the Common Core owners and developers asked the Administration
to spearhead the process of driving the standards into the states.
As set forth below, the enactment of the Stimulus Bill on February 17, 200916 set into
motion three dynamics that unfolded through 2010: (1) USED began preparing the Race to
the Top grant competition program for the states; (2) under tremendous pressure to obtain
as much Stimulus money as possible as an antidote to the widely forecast impending fiscal
and economic calamity, most states began positioning themselves to win money in the
grant competition against other states; and (3) NGA, CCSSO, and Achieve began to develop
the Common Core Standards through a private process.17 Even though at this point the
Common Core standards had not been drafted, USED followed the lead of NGA and CCSSO
and began herding the states into their adoption.
The week following the Stimulus Bill’s passage, Education Secretary Arne Duncan
announced in a C-SPAN interview that USED would distribute this Stimulus earmark to the
states through a competitive grant program called Race to the Top. Through that process,
USED would identify a “set number of states” that would commit to high common
standards, “great assessments,” and building “a great data system so that you can track
those students throughout their academic career.” When asked whether he envisioned
“national standards for every kid across all subjects and national tests,” the Secretary
replied, “We want to get into this game . . . . There are great outside partners -- Achieve, the
Gates Foundation [Achieve co-authored Benchmarking for Success and the Gates
Foundation funded it], others -- who are providing great leadership . . . . I want to be the
one to help it come to fruition.” 18

On March 7, 2009, one month after passage of the Stimulus Bill, USED announced the Race
to the Top “national competition” to distribute the Stimulus money through two rounds of
grant awards.19
On June 1, 2009, NGA and CCSSO formally launched their Common Core Standards
Initiative to develop and implement the Common Core – the effort referred to by Secretary
Duncan several months earlier. Before they had actually developed the standards, NGA and
CCSSO made qualitative promises, including that the standards would be the result of “a
state-led process”; that the standards would “be internationally benchmarked” and
“research- and evidence-based”; and that “no state will see a decrease in the level of
student expectations.”20 They planned to “leverage states’ collective influence to ensure
that textbooks, digital media, curricula, and assessments are aligned” with the Standards.
At the time, CCSSO President-elect Sue Gendron, who is now policy adviser and coordinator
for one of the federal assessment consortia, described the initiative as “transforming
education for every child.”21
In its Race to the Top request for applications, USED changed Congress’s Stimulus Bill
objectives from general improvement of state standards and assessments to acquiescence
to specific federal dictates.22 These dictates included the following:
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)

adopting internationally benchmarked standards and assessments
that prepare students for success in college and the workplace;
building data systems that measure student success and inform
teachers and principals about how they can improve their practices;
increasing teacher and principal effectiveness and achieving equity in
their distribution; and
turning around the lowest-achieving schools.23

Notably, with respect to the “standards and assessments” objective, the Race to the Top
restatement tracked the language of the NGA-CCSSO-Achieve Benchmarking for Success
plan issued in December 2008.24 Furthermore, it designated the four reform objectives as
“absolute priorities,” meaning that an applicant state had to address them to be considered
for funding.25
It is beyond dispute that USED wanted all the states to adopt the Common Core Standards.
Its Race to the Top request for state applications defined “internationally benchmarked
standards” as a “common set of K-12 standards” that are “substantially identical across all
States in a consortium.”26 It directed the competition judges to award a state “high” points
“if the consortium includes a majority of the States in the country,” but “medium or low”
points if the consortium includes one-half the states or fewer.27 USED admitted that the
“goal of common K-12 standards is to replace the existing patchwork of State standards”
and that its view was “that the larger the number of States within a consortium, the greater
the benefits and potential impact.”28 At that late date in the process, the only effort that
qualified under this language was the Common Core, which at that point had well over half
the governors committed to it as a political, rather than as a legal, matter.29 USED thus
discouraged states from forming competing consortia, and the NGA, for its part, exacted
endorsements from governors that, although not enforceable, locked down their political
commitments.
Through the assessment (standardized test) component of Race to the Top, USED further
bound the applicant states to the national standards. The Race to the Top applications
required that states, as one of the competition’s “absolute priorities,” participate “in a
consortium of States that … [i]s working toward jointly developing and implementing
common, high-quality assessments (as defined in this notice) aligned with the consortium’s
common set of K-12 standards (as defined in this notice) . . . .”30 To this end, the Stimulus
Bill authorized $362 million in funding “to consortia of states to develop assessments . . .
and measure student achievement against standards.”31 USED used that money to award

grants to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (“PARCC”)
consortium and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (“SBAC”), two entities that
were formed for the purpose of applying for Race to the Top money.32 In signing on as a full
member of one of these assessment consortia, a state committed itself to adopting the
Common Core and to using the consortium’s assessments. By implication a state also
committed itself to junking its own assessments and standards. Both consortia’s
memoranda of agreement (SBAC’s explicitly so) required the states to commit to the
Common Core.33
States had to commit to the standards and assessments without having a meaningful
opportunity to evaluate either product. NGA and its partners drafted the Common Core
standards through an opaque and unprofessional development process.34 State
involvement amounted to little more than suggestion-box input, none of which remotely
involved individual states’ systems of checks and balances and public processes.
The development process sheds further light on the private nature of Common Core’s
origins. For example, the process was not subject to open-meeting requirements, public
notice-requirements, or freedom of information requests. It lacked the checks and
balances of a public process that ensure that policy reflects the will of the people. And the
project itself was predicated on monopoly, thus preventing quality-ensuring competition.

The limited state role was only exacerbated by the short timeline for Common Core’s
development. The continuing federal timeline is revealing:
November 18, 2009 -- USED invited applications for Phase I of Race to the Top.
January 19, 2010 -- Deadline for submission of applications. At this time, the
Standards had not been completed.
• February 22, 2010 – In a speech to NGA, President Obama made clear his intention
that states would ultimately have to adopt the Common Core to receive federal Title
I education funding:

I also want to commend all of you for acting collectively through
the National Governors' Association to develop common academic
standards that will better position our students for success. . . .
we're calling for a redesigned Elementary and Secondary Education
Act that better aligns the federal approach to your state-led efforts
while offering you the support you need. . . . First, as a condition of
receiving access to Title I funds, we will ask all states to put in
place a plan to adopt and certify standards that are college and
career-ready in reading and math [code language for the Common
Core].35




March 2010 – USED released A Blueprint for Reform, which stated, “Beginning in
2015, formula [Title I] funds will be available only to states that are
implementing assessments based on college and career ready standards that are
common to a significant number of states.”36
March 2010 ( two months after states had submitted their Phase I Race to the Top
applications) -- NGA and CCSSO issued a public draft of the Common Core Standards.
April 14, 2010 -- USED invited applications for Phase II of Race to the Top.
June 1, 2010 – Deadline for submitting applications for Phase II.
June 2, 2010 -- NGA issued the final K-12 Common Core Standards. Significantly, in
certain respects the quality of the standards declined from the March draft to the
final product.37
August 2, 2010 -- Deadline for amending states’ Race to the Top submissions to
provide “evidence of having adopted common standards after June 1, 2010.”

Thus, to be competitive for a share of the $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund, applicant states
had to adopt the Common Core with, at most, two summer months to evaluate the final

product, compare it to their current standards, discuss the matter with their citizens, and
commit to replace their standards with the Common Core. Even that description is
charitable. As noted above, when it signed onto one of the federally sponsored testing
consortia, the state had committed itself to using standardized tests aligned to the
standards. At that point, to reverse course would have caused state policymakers
enormous political embarrassment. To make matters worse, the federally sponsored tests
were not fully developed until years later.
But that is not all USED did to impose its education policies on the states. For one thing, it
used the federally funded assessments explicitly as a way to develop and impose Common
Core-aligned curricula. Both consortia, as Secretary Duncan has said, “will help their
member states provide the tools and professional development needed to assist teachers'
transitions to the new assessments.” For PARCC, this includes “curriculum frameworks” 38
and “model instructional units.”39 Similarly, SBAC is using the federal funding “to develop
curriculum materials” and to create “a model curriculum” and “instructional materials”
aligned with the Standards.40 In The Road to a National Curriculum, Robert Eitel and Kent
Talbert, the former deputy general counsel and general counsel, respectively, of USED,
concluded:
The assessment systems that PARCC and SBAC develop and leverage
with federal funds, together with their hands-on assistance in
implementing the [Standards] will direct large swaths of state K-12
curricula, programs of instruction and instructional materials, as well
as heavily influence the remainder.41
Moreover, USED clearly signaled its intent for continued involvement: (1) It required the
consortia “to make student-level data that result from the assessment system available on
an ongoing basis for research, including for prospective linking, validity, and program
improvement studies” and (2) it gutted, through unauthorized regulatory changes, federal
family and student privacy protections in order to do so.
USED made it clear that the adoption of these national standards, assessments, and
curricula would be cemented regardless of the outcome of the Race to the Top

competition. USED’s Phase I request for applications required states to submit a plan
“demonstrating [the state’s] commitment to and progress toward adopting a common set
of K-12 standards (as defined in this notice) by August 2, 2010 … and to implementing the
standards in a well-planned way.”42 The request for Phase II applications required states to
have adopted “a common set of K-12 standards (as defined in this notice) by August 2,
2010” and to demonstrate their “commitment to implementing the standards thereafter in
a meaningful way.”43 States were thus in a competition to see which ones could most firmly
adopt USED’s agenda before the two grant application due dates. The race was on.
At this point, it’s worth mentioning that this is a threshold issue for presidential candidates:
Will they “stand at the constitutional line44” – and have they done so – to prevent the
federal government’s natural inclination to expand its footprint? How, specifically, do they
propose to do this? Will it just be the policy of their Administration, or do they propose
systemic changes to prevent future train-wrecks?
3. Common Core System
The Common Core Standards do not exist in isolation. The stated plan of Common Core’s
owners and funders and of the federal government is that the assessments required by No
Child Left Behind would align with the Common Core and that teachers, schools, and school
districts would be evaluated in significant part according to how students perform on those
assessments. The states would continue to build out massive student databases that the
federal government had incentivized beginning in 2002.45 The data from the assessments
(and from other sources) would be, and is, fed into these databases. The goal is to track
teacher-student connections for purposes of performance evaluation, and to track all
students from early education into the workforce.46
Standardized testing deserves special mention. From kindergarten through 12th grade,
depending on the state, district, and school, children may be subjected to as many as 113
standardized tests.47 In a single year, class time devoted to preparing for and taking such

tests can amount to over one month. This is in large part due to No Child Left Behind’s
testing requirements and attempts by administrators to prepare children to do well on
those tests, sometimes by providing for additional tests.
But it gets worse.
Often, such tests have very little instructional value. As Prof. Christopher Tienken explains,
to be useful for instruction, test results must be returned quickly to teachers and parents,
who need to see a child’s actual questions and answers.48 Standardized tests fail on these
counts. For most Common Core students, the lost instructional time is precious time
wasted. This will not close achievement gaps, nor will it prepare children for college.
4. The Common Core Standards Lock Children Into an Inferior Education
NGA and its partners drafted the Common Core Standards through an opaque and
unprofessional development process.49 The results reflect a product that heavily
discounted, and in some respects excluded,50 the input of parents; teachers; college
mathematics, engineering, and literature51 professors52; and early53 childhood learning
experts. The closed process produced a set of standards of demonstrably poor quality.
Common Core math has several systemic defects. The total product fails to meet its
promise of being evidence-based, internationally benchmarked, and rigorous. According to
Dr. James Milgram, world-renowned math professor emeritus at Stanford University and
the only mathematician (as opposed to, for example, a professor of mathematics education)
on the Common Core Validation Committee, students “educated” under Common Core math
will be, by 8th grade, at least two years behind their peers from high-performing
countries.54
In fact, the Common Core developers have admitted that Common Core will not produce
students who are ready for STEM studies [science, technology, engineering, and math].

Jason Zimba, one of three lead writers of the math standards, admitted that by “college
readiness” the Common Core developers meant “the colleges most kids attend [i.e.,
community colleges], but not for the colleges most parents aspire to.” And he continued,
“’college readiness’ is [not meant] for STEM, and not for selective colleges [in any
discipline].” 55 Regarding Common Core math, Marina Ratner, professor emerita of
mathematics at Cal-Berkeley and one of the world’s premier mathematicians, stated last
year in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that “students taught in the way that these
standards require would have little chance of being admitted to even an average college
and would certainly struggle if they did get in.”56
One stated purpose of the Race to the Top competition was to prepare more students for
STEM study and careers and to address the needs of underrepresented groups in these
fields.57 To attain this goal, it is undisputable that a full Algebra I course must be placed in
the 8th grade – as agreed by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel,58 leaders of
selective technology-focused universities,59 and even the Benchmarking for Success report60
that NGA and CCSSO used to justify Common Core in the first place. If children are
prepared to take a full Algebra I by the start of 8th grade, then they can progress
comfortably to calculus in the 12th grade. The experience of states that have placed
Algebra I in 8th grade – for example, Massachusetts and California – bears out the wisdom

of this move.61 But despite this evidence, and unlike high-performing countries such as
Singapore and South Korea, Common Core delays Algebra I until 9th grade.62
And any “accelerated path” allowed by Common Core -- basically teaching three years of
math in the last two years of grade school or the first two years of high school – deprives
children of a comfortable progression and heightens the need for after-school tutoring and
private summer school courses. The well-to-do are often the only demographic group that
can access a work-around to such an accelerated path. In short, Common Core will result in
a widening achievement gap and fewer students prepared for STEM studies.63
Beyond the delay in teaching Algebra I, Common Core math excludes certain Algebra II and
geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college, as
well as vast swaths of trigonometry.64 To make matters worse, Common Core math teaches
geometry using an experimental system, one that has never been implemented successfully
in K-12. Even the Fordham Institute, a staunch Common Core proponent, reported that
“the geometry standards represent a significant departure from traditional axiomatic

Euclidian geometry and no replacement foundation is established.”65 That this failed
approach is now, through Common Core, our national system of teaching geometry is
simply bizarre.
The problems with Common Core math on the secondary level are profound. But the
deficiencies begin in grades K-8. In the lower grades, Common Core promotes “reform,” or
“fuzzy,” math. This delays teaching standard algorithms (the best, most logical, way in
which to solve a particular type of problem) and fluency in those skills. It also
deemphasizes the standard algorithms and tends to confuse children about the best way
for approaching a problem. Ultimately, the learning progression is delayed so that children
are not prepared to take a full Algebra I by the start of 8th grade.66
The result of all this will be an increase in the number of children who supposedly have
some “conceptual understanding” of math but who can’t actually work math problems.67
This result is a near certainty because it is exactly what happened in California about 20
years ago when that state adopted essentially the same approach as Common Core for
teaching math.68 After a few disastrous years, California returned to more traditional math
– the kind used by higher-achieving countries.
With respect to English language arts, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, perhaps this country’s most
respected authority on K-12 English standards, criticizes the Common Core as “empty skill
sets . . . [that] weaken the basis of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic
college coursework.”69 It does this in part by dictating a reduction in the amount of classic
fiction taught in English class in favor of nonfiction “informational texts.” To that point, in
the Publishers’ Criteria memorandum published by, among others, NGA partners CCSSO and

Achieve, two of the chief Common Core authors state that most ELA “programs and
materials designed for [grades 6-12] will need to increase substantially the amount of
literary nonfiction they include.”70 The weight of evidence fails to support such a reduction
and, in fact, supports the contrary conclusion.71
Moreover, prominent child psychiatrists and psychologists have heavily criticized many of
the Standards as being age-inappropriate for young children. In that regard, Dr. Carla
Horwitz of the Yale Child Study Center argues, “The Core Standards will cause suffering, not
learning, for many, many young children.”72
There are many other qualitative problems with Common Core.73
5. The Common Core Pushback
Participants in the pushback movement initially become engaged for one of multiple
reasons: the qualitative defects of the Standards themselves and the aligned curricula,
concerns with the assessments aligned with the Common Core, or concerns with the
connected intrusions into student and family privacy. But many quickly became alarmed
by the broader picture: The Common Core scheme is designed to influence other subjects in
K-12; to transform education in America by promoting non-academic “outcome-based”
training (not education) of the type rejected by parents 20 years ago; to feed into elitist
economic policy whereby children are reduced to “human capital”; and to establish a
sweeping and intrusive system of data-collection and student-tracking. Moreover, these
dramatic changes were forced onto America with only a cursory nod to political
institutions designed to ensure high-quality policies and adherence to the will of the
people.74
In the absence of systemic changes, a national train wreck as bad as, or worse than, the

Common Core will once again be pushed onto the American people. Thus, citizens want to
know what reforms a candidate would champion as president to guard against such
catastrophes.
The media, including much of conservative media, and the vast majority of politicians do
not appreciate the depth of this issue. The federal executive has de facto unchecked power
over state policy-making, and for their part, private entities heavily influence federal policy.
Politicians who do not recognize this systemic breakdown leave citizens with the
impression that they do not understand, and therefore will not fix, the problems that
facilitated the Common Core. They may also leave the impression that they lack courage.
Such politicians leave the door open for an illusory fix, such as the “rebranding” of Common
Core in Indiana and other states, and for further policy dystopia.
6. Making Big Ideas Into Small Ideas: The GOP Tendency
Common Core has become a flash point in the public square across the political spectrum.
Its adversarial divide is elitists (those who believe that a people’s lives should be managed)
versus populists (those who believe that people should govern their own lives) rather than
along party lines. Republican and Democratic activists alike recognize that Common Core
is the result of a systemic breakdown in governance.
Common Core activists understand how Common Core won an immediate, albeit a vague
and pre-development, commitment from 48 governors and subsequently swept, almost in
unison, into 45 states. Activists have fought against the federal, state, and local government.
Many activists have reviewed thousands of pages of government statutes, regulations,
grant documents, studies, and meeting minutes and have met with their governor,
executive agencies, and federal and state legislators. They understand that the adoption of
Common Core so quickly by so many states came about because elitist private entities
prevailed on the federal executive branch to push the standards into the states through
grants and regulatory threats disguised as relief from burdensome regulations.
Activists understand the crucial breakdown: the state education executive bodies
(departments of education and state boards of education) pine for the conditional federal
dollar and, in addition, many, perhaps most, of their jobs exist to administer that dollar. As
a result, the state education apparatus turns toward the federal executive and away from
the state’s legislature and citizens. That near exclusion of the citizen paves the way for the
series of education fads and poor products like the Common Core. In state after state, on
matter after matter, the controlling policy is simply, “What do the Feds want?”
Courageous public officials have made this observation. The experiences of Andrea Neal
provide a case in point. Neal is an English language arts teacher and journalist who served

on the Indiana State Board of Education during the implementation of a state law requiring
the adoption of new, high-quality standards to replace Common Core. Regarding the state
education apparatus’s efforts pursuant to that law, Neal observed:
The ‘new’ academic standards are at minimum 85 percent Common
Core or Common Core paraphrased. The feds made clear they’d grant
no waivers to states that didn’t have ‘college and career ready’
standards, assessments tied to those standards and teacher evaluations
based significantly on test scores. The safest bet — as states quickly
learned — was to adopt standards that looked a lot like Common
Core. Hoosiers don't determine education policy in Indiana. The federal
government does.
In that vein, the Texas Commissioner of Education in 2010, Robert Scott, and the governor,
Rick Perry, were particularly attuned to the federal influence on education policy. In
rejecting, the Race to the Top application Gov. Perry stated:
[W]e would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future
in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups
thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’
participation in their children’s education. If Washington were truly
concerned about funding education with solutions that match local
challenges, they would make the money available to states with no
strings attached.75
Some have suggested that, whether the funding or decision-making comes from the federal
government or a state government, it should not matter in terms of the quality of the
consequent policy or product. After all, aren’t both the federal and state governments
constructed along the same lines with a legislative, executive, and judicial branch?
As the activist knows well, the current interplay between the federal executive and the
state executive turns the constitutional structure on its head. It presently works contrary
to its purposes of securing “the freedom of the individual” 76 and of:
[allowing] local policies “more sensitive to the diverse needs of a
heterogeneous society,” permits “innovation and experimentation,”
[enabling] greater citizen “involvement in democratic processes,” and

[making] government “more responsive by putting the States in
competition for a mobile citizenry.” 77
The current practices subvert that apparatus. Tying conditions or policies to funding
deceives citizens and legislators. Where did the policy originate? Is it the view of the state
executive that it is the best policy possible? Was that view the result of a prudential
evidence-based approach? Who is driving the policy? Does the state executive believe it is
being implemented in the best way possible? The answers to those questions are, at best,
unknowable under current federal practices.78
We note that, on the continuum from legally mandated to politically coerced to induced
through conditional grants, it is likely grant inducement that causes the most harm to the
constitutional structure. It creates the most ambiguities, or confusion, to the citizen as to
why a state or locality has adopted a certain policy or product.
In rejecting the Race to Top grants, Governor Perry touched on this problem:
Through Race to the Top funding, the U.S. Department of Education
seems to be coercing states like Texas to suddenly abandon their own
locally established curriculum standards in favor of adopting national
standards spearheaded by organizations in Washington, D.C.79
As with other citizens, legislators who delve into the process understand the nexus
between the perverted process and the poor quality of policy. As stated by Texas state Rep.
Rob Eissler, Public Education Committee chairman in 2010, “[T]he two things I worry
about in education are fads and feds, and this combines both.”80
Amy Edmonds, education policy analyst, Wyoming Liberty Group and former Wyoming
state legislator, elaborates on that sentiment:

We continue to give lip service to the fairytale that states have control
over the development and delivery of education in public schools. This
is simply not true. The federal government has effectively created a
system of “incentives” using the power of the federal purse to hammer
states into submission. Wyoming, like most states, does not develop
education policy that makes sense for our rural Western public schools,
we develop policy based on what the federal government wants us to
do. But we slap the word Wyoming in front of the legislation and say
it’s state based. It’s utter lunacy.
Similarly, Del. Jim Butler of West Virginia observes:
As a state legislator I have been at first surprised and now very
disappointed that the West Virginia State School Board and the State
Department of Education officials have been so willing to mislead the
public, and legislators, in order to prop up deeply flawed policies that
are potentially harmful to West Virginia children only because they are
promoted by lobbyists and federal agencies.
At the federal level Congress has the talking points on education and
local control down pat, unfortunately it appears that they are only
cementing into place federal authority at the expense of parents and
children.
And Indiana state Sen. Scott Schneider:
According to our United States Constitution education is the sole
responsibility of the states, to be carried out according to each state’s
constitution.
The Federal government, through the Federal
Department of Education, has its tentacles entangled in just about every
aspect of education at the state level. Through the threat of reduced or
lost funding, the feds dictate policy directly and indirectly to states
boards of education and departments of education, rendering the voice
of the people - through their legislatures - mute. To truly improve
education in this country, the Federal government must get out of the
business of education completely, and return this function to the states.
It is time to abolish the Federal department of education.
The activist –be she a parent, teacher, or some other citizen– knows this all too well. She
has gleaned it from the volumes of papers she has read, from her entreaties to legislators,
governors, and state board members, and from her networking with other activists from
across the country.

With regard to the GOP presidential contest, almost all candidates have now voiced some
sort of objection to the Common Core. However, as is the tendency in the party on issue
after issue, rather than fighting on grand, timeless ideas or principles, many GOP politicians
have responded to this issue by latching onto an insipid, flavorless part. They have made a
big idea into a small idea. They argue that the standards were a good idea but that the
federal government “hi-jacked” them (not true); that the standards were good (not true)
but that the implementation is poor; or that government did not reach out to parents and
get them on board. Or, some go along with a fallacy that standards re-branded and
accepted by the state educational structure have replaced the Common Core with
something different (in truth such standards are aligned with the Common Core such that
children are taught with Common Core-aligned textbooks and subjected to Common Corealigned standardized tests).
Making the big idea into a small idea gives short shrift to the parents fighting for their
rights and for their children’s future and to the activists who have devoted so much of their
energy and time. Such tactics fail to address the root problem, thus opening the door for
the same or another fad to be pushed right back into the schools. They also give the
impression that the candidate (or the officeholder or the party) lacks courage.
We looked positively on those candidates who opposed the recent NCLB reauthorization
legislation as inadequate in regard to protecting parental rights and state and local
decision-making, especially in the context of substantial GOP majorities in Congress.81 We
note that three GOP candidates who are senators voted against the legislation, whereas
Sen. Graham (SC) did not cast a vote.82
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the sponsor of the senate NCLB bill, S. 1177 (also know as
the Student Success Act), contends that the bill is conservative due to its prohibitions on
USED; due to its elimination of the NCLB dictate that a state show Annual Yearly Progress
toward 100% student proficiency; and due to purported flexibility that the government is
giving the states with regard to matters such as state accountability systems.83 We do not
discount the bi-partisan support the bill enjoys in the Senate: for the first time, there is bipartisan consensus that the federal education footprint should be reduced. This is even
more remarkable because Congress has generally lost its big battles with this President.

However, S. 1177’s federal restrictions are illusory. For example, its vaunted prohibitions
on the federal government largely replicate the existing ineffective prohibitions contained
in NCLB (like the current prohibitions, they lack an enforcement mechanism for the states);
it keeps the ineffective, expensive, and overbearing federal testing mandates; and it
denigrates student privacy.84 A NCLB reauthorization put forward by the GOP-controlled
Congress should have done much more to return power to the states and the people.85 It
should have, for example, eliminated the federal testing mandates and the requirement that
states submit a state education plan for USED approval.
At the heart of the report card is a parent and citizen movement to take control over
education decision-making versus the GOP tendency to make big issues into small issues.
Activists recognize a strong connection between, on one hand, the poor quality of the
Common Core and the intrusive data collection and, on the other hand, the federal
government’s dominant role in these policies. They understand that the failure to address
the big idea, restoring federalism (returning power to the states), will negate the success of
any small ideas suggested to tweak failed policies.
Because of the duplicity with which the Common Core was introduced and because the
pushback movement is relatively recent, we view through a charitable lens candidates who
initially supported the Common Core system but then changed their minds. At the same
time, though, we must acknowledge those who opposed the Common Core from the
beginning.
7. What We Left Out
Due to time constraints, we did not include categories that could rightly be included in a
Common Core scorecard. Those include initiatives that expand government-funded early
childcare and the alignment of education to a national workforce system. Those initiatives
will require increased data collection. The latter one will also entail the continuation of
federal efforts to shape state “workforce investment” efforts that are an affront to state
sovereignty and capitalism and that treat children and adults as human capital--as a means
to an end.86

With a few notable exceptions, 87 this issue has not reached wide currency in the media, but
it is rising on the heels of Common Core and has strong traction in the grassroots and
among populist education researchers.88 Rather than fight these initiatives, GOP governors
and senators tend to vote for them and implement them, thereby evoking the following
quip by G.K. Chesterton:
The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and
Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes.
The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being
corrected.89
8. The Scorecard
We have graded the current and prospective field of GOP candidates based on the following
criteria:
1. Whether the candidate recognizes the full scope of the Common
Core issue and has advocated for, or taken, action that would roll
back the Common Core education standards.
2. Whether the candidate has advocated for protecting, or taken steps
to protect, state and local decision-making in the area of education,
e.g., offered a plan to give states enforceable protection against
USED overreach, to opt out of the USED, unwind USED as a whole,
etc.
3. Whether the candidate has advocated for protecting child and family
privacy, for example by opposing improper gathering and use of
data including student medical information and any information
that would reflect a student’s psychological characteristics or
behaviors.

Explanation of Grading:
Column 1: Fighting Common Core
Column 2: Protecting state/local decision-making
Column 3: Protecting child/family privacy
A
B
C
D
F

Champions the issue (e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue)
Professes support, but has not provided leadership or otherwise championed it
Has neither helped nor hurt the cause
Has an overall negative record on the issue
Robustly and consistently works against the issue

With respect to the calculation of the overall mark, we converted the letter grades to
numeric grades and weighted the columns equally. We accorded .3 to “plus”(+) grades and
subtracted .3 to “minus”(-) grades.
As to a candidate’s overall grade, above 4.0 thru 4.3 garners an A+; above 3.7 thru 4.0
garners an A; above 3.5 thru 3.7 garners an A-; above 3.3 thru 3.5 garners a B+; above 2.7
thru 3.3 garners a B; above 2.5 thru 2.7 garners a B-; above 2.3 thru 2.5 garners a C+; above
1.7 thru 2.3 garners a C; above 1.5 thru 1.7 garners a C-; above 1.3 thru 1.5 garners a D+;
above .7 thru 1.3 garners a D; above .5 thru .7 garners a D-; and .5 and below garners an F.

Candidate

Ending
the
Common
Core
System

Protecting
state and
local
decision
making

Protecting
child and
family
privacy

Overall
Grade

Jeb Bush

F

F

D

F

Ben Carson

B-

B

C

B-

Chris Christie

D+

D+

D+

D+

Ted Cruz

A-

A

B+

A-

Carly Fiorina

B-

B-

C

C+

Lindsey
Graham

B+

B+

C+

B

Mike Huckabee C

C

B-

C

Bobby Jindal

B+

B+

A-

B+

John Kasich

F

D-

F

F

Rand Paul

A-

A

B+

A-

Rick Perry

A+

A-

D

B

Marco Rubio

C+

B

D

C

Rick Santorum

A

B+

C+

B

Donald Trump

B-

B

C

B-

Scott Walker

D+

D+

D+

D+

9. Candidate Statements and Actions.
Jeb Bush (website: https://jeb2016.com/)
Overall Grade: F
Gov. Bush is perhaps the most outspoken supporter of the Common Core Standards in the
2016 field. He has publicly praised David Coleman, one of the two chief architects of the
Common Core (who is now chairman of the College Board).90 He has propagated the false
narrative that the Common Core standards are merely learning goals and are of high
quality.91 He has turned a blind eye to the reasons underlying opposition to Common Core
and instead used straw-man arguments to dismiss opponents as relying on “Alice-inWonderland logic.”92
Bush uses the phrase “high standards” to paint a false picture of the Common Core
Standards, and he has stated that he thinks the Standards should be the “new minimum in
classrooms.”93 He has denigrated opponents as being motivated by politics. As recently as
last year, he was explicitly urging state lawmakers to support the Common Core and
described the opposition as resting on “myths” of federal involvement.94
Despite some claims that Bush has begun to back away from his support of the Common
Core, his recent statements make it clear that he has no intention of backing down. On The
Kelly Files, May 25, 2015, Bush continued to claim that the Common Core standards are
high standards.95
At a townhall meeting in Iowa, Bush reportedly got into a debate with an attendee. CNN
reports that:
After a tense back-and-forth that lasted several minutes, a somewhat
exasperated Bush ultimately concluded with, "I'm just for higher
standards, man."96
At CPAC, Bush told Sean Hannity:

And here’s, here’s where I think conservatives and myself, all of us are
deeply concerned, with this President and this Department of
Education, there’s a risk that they will intrude, and they have as it
relates to Race to the Top. What we should say quite clearly in the
reauthorization of the K-12 law that is just—I think it may have actually
been on the floor of the House of Representatives today, is to say that
the federal government has no role in the creation of standards either
directly or indirectly. The federal government has no role in the
creation of curriculum and content. The federal government should
have no access to student ID or student information. That the role of the
federal government, if there’s any, is to provide incentives for more
school choice. Take the Title I money and the IDEA money and if the
states want to innovate their own programs, give them the money to let
them create their own programs. That is a better approach.97
However, this skepticism of USED initiatives is newly minted, and the legislative
prohibitions Bush refers to largely already exist and did so when the Feds pushed Common
Core into the states. Furthermore, in 2011, just as the Obama administration was tying
Race to the Top funds to Common Core, Bush told Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe:
I think (Education) Secretary (Arne) Duncan and President Obama
deserve credit for putting pressure on states to change, particularly the
states that haven't changed at all. They're providing carrots and sticks,
and I think that's appropriate.98
What many consider a step back from Common Core support appears to be merely an
attempt to reframe his rhetoric without any substantive changes to his views.99 As NRO
Stanley Kurtz observed with regard to Bush’s answer at the August 6, 2015 Fox News
debate:100
Jeb’s Common Core answer was well-practiced, yet profoundly
misleading. The whole trick of Common Core is to make an end-run
around the legal and constitutional barriers to a national curriculum,
even as you deny that you’re doing it. Bush and his Common Coresupporting allies have been pretending to favor local control for years.
Yet Jeb has repeatedly backed the most controversial Obama

administration moves to consolidate what amounts to a national
curriculum. A careful look at Bush’s record makes his actual views alltoo-clear.
First you’ve got to understand the Orwellian world of Common Core
advocacy, where day is night, war is peace, and Bush is Obama (well
actually, that last one is true). The central goal of Common Core
advocates is to replace the varying education standards of all 50 states
with a single national model, placing special reliance on federal
pressure to bring this about. The problem is that the Constitution
leaves education to the states, while no less than three laws clearly bar
federal direction, supervision, or control of state curricula. So the
challenge is to nationalize the curriculum and circumvent the
Constitution, and the law, while denying that any of this is happening.
The Obama administration’s solution has been to offer “Race to the
Top” funding to states, or waivers of onerous federal education
requirements, on condition that states adopt . . .
In a co-authored 2011 opinion piece making “The Case for Common
Educational Standards,” Bush and New York educator Joel Klein deny
federal overreach and present the states as voluntarily enrolling in
Common Core. They speak of two testing consortia “of the states,”
without noting federal financing of these national consortia. Bush and
Klein portray a program explicitly designed to create uniform national
standards as embodying “the beauty of our federal system.” Day is
night.
The foundation Bush created, the Foundation for Excellence in Education (“FEE,” which is
heavily funded by the Gates Foundation101), has been an integral partner in the proCommon Core campaign from the beginning. FEE has worked to promote the Common Core
in multiple states, issuing propaganda designed to bat down the opponents’ revelations.102
It, along with the Fordham Institute, co-founded “Conservatives for Higher Standards” to
promote the Common Core.103 FEE also heavily promotes “digital learning” that in many
cases involves intrusive student-profiling platforms; indeed, Bush himself has written in
support of this concept.104 FEE also supports ineffective “privacy” legislation105 and the

federal-control-heavy Every Child Achieves Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander
and Patty Murray, to rewrite NCLB.106 Although Bush is no longer officially connected with
FEE, the foundation is his legacy – and it’s a troubling one.
The Bush Campaign website does not address the issues.
Ben Carson (website: https://www.bencarson.com/)
Overall Grade: BBen Carson has published his views on education on his campaign’s website.107 The section
reads:
For primary and secondary education, the bedrock concept that has
always guided us has been “local control.” Communities fund and
manage public schools for the benefit of families and children in their
neighborhoods.
More than most, I’m acutely aware of education being the ladder that
can lead one out of poverty and into realizing the American Dream.
In recent years, there has been a troubling trend of the U.S. Department
of Education increasingly trying to dictate how children are educated in
our primary and secondary schools. This must stop and Common Core
must be overturned.
Our education system must be run by involved parents and engaged
teachers and principals. Any attempt by faceless federal bureaucrats to
take over our local schools must be defeated.
As a non-office-holder, Carson is pretty much limited to speaking on the issues. He says the
right things but has given no indication of a deep understanding of Common Core or the
attendant problems. We would like to hear more from him.
Chris Christie (website: https://www.chrischristie.com/)
Overall Grade: D+
Chris Christie has had a varied history with the Common Core.108 In 2013 he was quoted as

saying, "We're doing Common Core in New Jersey and we're going to continue. And this is
one of those areas where I've agreed more with the President than not." By 2014, Christie
had changed his tune: "I have some real concerns about Common Core and how it's being
rolled out and that's why I put a commission together to study it." In early 2015, Christie
had again taken a newly evolved position as he said, “I have grave concerns about the way
this is being done, and especially the way the Obama administration has tried to implement
it through tying federal funding to these things," he said.
During his appearance at CPAC, Christie told Laura Ingraham that he had regrets related to
the implementation of the Common Core, but shortly after, he urged parents not to opt
their children out of the Common Core-aligned PARCC tests.109
More recently, Christie has pledged to do away with the Common Core in New Jersey;
however, he has also stated that the state will retain the PARCC test, which assesses
student performance based on the Common Core Standards.110
In late April, Christie elaborated on his initial support for the Common Core, stating: “We
signed on to try to get funds during a really difficult fiscal time.” 111 Apparently, his
decision to stick with the PARCC test, despite calls from parents and teachers to abandon it,
was also based on the procurement of federal funding:
This will in no way affect our efforts to continue effective testing and
measurement of our students through the PARCC test. We must
continue to review and improve that test based on results, not fear or
speculation. I will not permit New Jersey to risk losing vital federal
education funds because some would prefer to let the perfect get in the
way of the good. 112
Additionally, during an appearance on Face the Nation, after having expressed his reticence
about Common Core, Christie said of his state’s use of the Standards:
. . . I gave it four years to work. I mean, unlike some other folks, who
just reflexively dismissed it, I said, all right, let's give it a chance. Let's
see if it will work. It was originally written by the nation's governors.

Let's give it a chance. But in four years, John, we did not have educators
or parents buy into Common Core.
...
And the fact is that I thought this was worth giving it a try. And we tried
it. And it didn't work. And so that is part of what government does too,
you know. You engage in certain actions which you are hopeful will
work when [sic]. And they don't work, you should change course, not
stay stubborn because you're afraid of somebody asking you a gotcha
question.113
But Christie wants to keep the Common Core-aligned PARCC assessments, which would
effectively dictate keeping the Common Core. In that regard, Seton Hall professor of
education Chris Teinken observed, "If the accountability indicators are all pointing to the
test aligned to the Common Core, what we think is going to happen in the classroom? What
gets tested gets taught."114
As to privacy issues, Christie has been a steadfast supporter of the PARCC assessments,
which has severe data-sharing repercussions.115
We would look for Christie to lead the effort to replace the Common Core in New Jersey
with good standards – not just a “review” leading to a rebrand – and to replace PARCC with
an assessment aligned to the new standards. His statement, in a thinly veiled reference to
Gov. Perry, that at least he tried Common Core is particularly troublesome.116 It indicates
that he does not understand how the federal government interferes with state decisionmaking, does not appreciate the academic deficiencies of the Common Core, and does not
understand why parents are upset.
Christie epitomizes “making a big issue into a small issue.” His website does not address
Common Core and does not address his view as to the relationship between USED and the
states on education. Does he think it is just fine? Does he think the states need structural
protections? Does he want to eliminate USED? Perhaps make it bigger? These are
campaign issues, and the people want to know.
Ted Cruz (website: https://www.tedcruz.org/)
Overall Grade: A-

Sen. Ted Cruz is one of the two senatorial candidates for president (the other being Rand
Paul) who supported Senator Grassley's effort to defund the Common Core in 2013 and
2014. He co-signed a letter penned by Senator Chuck Grassley to the chair and vice-chair of
the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education that calling for a prohibition on
the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, to end the federal involvement in
the Common Core testing consortium, and to prohibit USED from rescinding a state’s No
Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core.
On the stump, Cruz has consistently called for the “repeal” of the Common Core Standards
and for the return of educational control to the state and to the local level. This exchange
occurred on a recent airing of The Kelly File on Fox News:
Cruz: I do, I think we should repeal every single word of Common
Core. The reason is I think education is far more important for it to be
governed by unelected bureaucrats in Washington. It should be at the
state level or better the local level . . . .
Kelly: But it is. The response to that is that governors got together to
push this through.
Cruz: But Megyn that’s not how it works. The Obama administration
had used money, federal money, to force states to adopt Common Core
standards.
Kelly: But can’t they bail out if they don’t want to be a part of it?
Cruz: Well sure they can, but there are a lot of dollars connected to
it. The federal government, it’s sort of like the drug dealer that goes to
junior high and gets the kid hooked saying “just try it once.” The
federal government has offered the states these dollars and there’s so
many strings attached.
Cruz seems to understand the issue better than some, and he says the right things.117 He
would do well to elevate the issue in his comments. Cruz, like all candidates, should
mention the qualitative problems with the Common Core118 and should set forth their
solutions to the federal command-and-control mechanisms that intrude on state and local
decision-making. The candidate who does this would signal an understanding of the issues
and would win the confidence of the people.

His proposed S.AMDT 2180 to the NCLB reauthorization was a great step forward for
reining in the federal government, as it would have significantly returned accountability to
the states. It gained an impressive 40 votes, but failed to pass. It is the kind of inspired and
courageous leadership desperately sought by activist mothers and fathers.
Sen. Cruz voted against S.1177, the No Child Left Behind Reauthorization introduced by
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA). He also voted in favor of S.AMDT
2162, introduced by Sen. Lee (R-UT), which addressed the right of parents to opt their
children out of standardized tests.
We encourage Sen. Cruz to spell out in greater detail his plans for reigning in the federal
government, to talk about the nexus between Common Core’s quality and the perversion of
our constitutional structure and to raise the issues with accurate specifics rather than to
talk about “repealing” Common Core. Does Cruz have further proposals to safeguard state
and local decision-making and protect parental rights? His website does not address the
Common Core issues, does not say anything about student and family privacy, and does not
address his views as to the relationship between the federal government and the states
with regard to education.
Carly Fiorina (website: https://carlyforpresident.com/)
Overall Grade: C+
Like Carson, Fiorina is limited to commentary. Although she says the right things now, she
praised Race to the Top during her Senate bid.
In recent statements, Carly Fiorina has highlighted Common Core as a key policy difference
between herself and Jeb Bush. She has stated:
I think Common Core is a really bad idea. It is a giant bureaucratic
program, and we have demonstrated over forty years that the
Department of Education can get bigger and bigger and bigger, and the
quality of education continues to deteriorate. I think it’s pretty clear
based on those facts that giving more money to the Department of
Education doesn’t improve learning in the classroom. So why would we
make that worse?119

Further, she has addressed other problems with Common Core:
I don’t think Common Core is a good idea. I don’t support it, by the way,
I think the facts are clear, the bigger the Department of Education
becomes, the worse our public education becomes. So there is no
connection to spending more money in Washington and a better school
system. In fact, there is every connection between giving parents
choice and having real competition and having real accountability in
the classroom.120
However, when Fiorina was running for a Senate seat in California in 2010, her campaign
released a document outlining her stance on education.121 In it, the Fiorina campaign
praised Obama’s Race to the Top program as “put[ting] into place some critically important
accountability measures” and “help[ing] improve our education system.” Race to the Top, of
course, was the vehicle for installing the Common Core. Additionally, Fiorina’s campaign
praised the affiliated “internationally benchmarked standards and assessments” as well as
“robust data systems.” The document also claimed that “No Child Left Behind helped us set
a high bar for our students . . . .”
In an email to Caffeinated Thoughts, Fiorina spokeswoman Sarah Flores addressed the
“Carly for California” document:
At the time that Race to the Top was proposed in 2009 and when Carly
supported it in 2010, it was a funding program based on real
performance metrics and opposed by the teachers’ unions. But like so
many other government programs with worthy goals backed by
flowery speeches, it hasn’t turned out to be what we were promised.
Instead, Race to the Top is just the latest example of the federal
bureaucracy caving to the powerful interests in Washington and
abandoning its original goals.122
Fiorina’s website states, “Government is rigged in favor of powerful interests. The only way
to reimagine our government is to reimagine who is running it.” She would do well to
address these issues more often and in more detail -especially given that the Common Core
is being driven by the “powerful interests” that claim to serve the interests of the economy
and business.

Fiorina would do well to discuss the issue in more depth, to raise the qualitative problems,
and to state whether she has any proposals to safeguard state decision-making.
Lindsey Graham (website: http://www.lindseygraham.com/)
Overall Grade: B
Graham seems to understand the issues with Common Core today, but it is unfortunate this
opposition did not come sooner. He missed an early opportunity to strike at the Common
Core in 2013 by not co-signing a letter penned by Senator Chuck Grassley to the chair and
vice-chair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education that called for
language to prohibit the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, end the
federal government’s involvement in the Common Core testing consortium, and prevent
the United States Department of Education from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind
waiver if it repealed Common Core.
In a press release from February 5th, 2014 Graham stated:
The Obama Administration has effectively bribed and coerced states
into adopting Common Core. Blanket education standards should not
be a prerequisite for federal funding. In order to have a competitive
application for some federal grants and flexibility waivers, states have
to adopt Common Core. This is simply not the way the Obama
Administration should be handling education policy. Our resolution
affirms that education belongs in the hands of our parents, local
officials and states.123
Graham also introduced SR 345, which condemned the usage of incentives, including
waivers, to incentivize states to adopt the Common Core or any other national education
policies.124
Sen. Graham actively opposed the Common Core last year in the Senate. He would do well
to flesh out what he would do as president to rein in the federal government and to protect
state decision-making.
Sen. Graham’s campaign website states:
We need to put education back where it belongs – in the hands of
parents, local school districts, and the states. Blanket standards should

not be a prerequisite for federal funding. The federal government
should not coerce states into adopting Common Core and its top-down,
one-size-fits-all approach to education. We need to restore and protect
state authority and flexibility in establishing and defining rigorous
student academic standards and assessments.
Senator Graham should flesh out his views. Does he have a plan to address the root
problems of federal intrusion? Does he recognize a nexus between the between Common
Core’s poor quality and federal involvement?
Sen. Sen. Graham did not cast a vote on Sen. Lamar Alexander’s S.1177, (the
reauthorization of No Child Left Behind).125 Nor did he cast a vote on proposed S.AMDT
2180, Sen. Cruz’s proposal to return accountability to the states, or on S.AMDT 2162, Sen.
Lee’s amendment addressing the right of parents to opt their children out of standardized
tests. His office stated that he was not in town that day.
Mike Huckabee (website: https://www.mikehuckabee.com)
Overall Grade: C
Gov. Mike Huckabee has a checkered past on the issue of the Common Core.126 Once an
ardent supporter of the system, he now claims that the original “governor-controlled
states’ initiative” eventually “morphed into a frankenstandard that nobody, including me,
can support.” However, as recently as 2013, Mike Huckabee told the Council of Chief State
School Officers to “[r]ebrand [Common Core], refocus it, but don’t retreat.”127
As the campaign approached, Huckabee began to be more consistent in his opposition
(although he was still giving a nod to the supposedly pure origins of the Common Core). In
2013 he opened his Fox News program by saying:
I don’t support what Common Core has become in many states or
school districts. Look, I’m dead set against the federal government
creating a uniform curriculum for any subject. I oppose the collection of
personal data on students that would identify them and then track
them, and certainly any effort to give that personal information to the
federal government.128

During his campaign-announcement speech, Huckabee stated:
There is no constitutional authority to dictate education from the
federal government. Why even have a federal Department of
Education? It’s flunked and it needs to be expelled. Education policy
ought to be set by states, local school boards and, best of all, by the
moms and dads of the children.129
Regarding education, Huckabee’s website states, among other things:
I believe we must demand results, accountability and success for every
child in every classroom. I oppose watering down our education
standards or automatically promoting every student.
I also oppose Common Core and believe we should abolish the federal
department of education. We must kill Common Core and restore
common sense.
At the August 6, 2015 Fox News Debate, Huckabee said:
It’s not too big to shrink. But the problem is we have a Wall Street-toWashington access of power that has controlled the political climate.
The donor class feeds the political class who does the dance that the
donor class wants. And the result is federal government keeps getting
bigger.
Every person on this stage who has been a governor will tell that you
the biggest fight they had was not the other party. Wasn’t even the
legislature. It was the federal government, who continually put
mandates on the states that we had to suck up and pay for.
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.
Huckabee’s rebrand advice to the Common Core owners and supporters gut-stabbed the
national grassroots movement right when it was gaining national traction. In making that
statement, he endorsed the strategy of state executive officials to stay in the good graces of
USED by making superficial changes to their standards but maintaining the overall focus

and alignment to Common Core and thereby ensuring tests and textbooks align to Common
Core.
Now, though, Huckabee has made a forceful general argument as to the problem of special
interests currying the favor of the federal executive branch, which then “puts mandates on
the states.” That is how we got the demonstrably poor Common Core. We hope that he
fleshes it out more. We hope that he (and the other candidates) would consider the
viewpoint of state legislators, samples of which are in section 6 of this report. The U.S.
Department of Education curries the favor of the state departments of education, state
boards of education, and even governors and makes them its supplicant. It turns them
away from the legislators, and through them, the people. Furthermore, because USED
works through the state executive agencies, it shrouds the people from truly knowing for
what it is responsible. There is no effective legislative check, either federal or state, on
USED action and, as a result, poor products like Common Core are inflicted on children.
Huckabee has made one of the stronger privacy statements, noted above.
Huckabee would do well to mention the qualitative defects of the Common Core, its nexus
to the federal intrusion and special interests, and what, if any, safeguards need to be
implemented to protect state decision-making. If it weren’t for his earlier statements,
Huckabee’s scores would be much higher. His recent statements have been strong, but this
movement is looking for fighters and he would do well to spell out in more detail his
objections and what he would do as president. At this stage, Huckabee stands, in our
judgment, between Christie (who contends he was right to test-run the Common Core on
the children of New Jersey but now doesn’t like the results) and Jindal (who has
undertaken a full assault on Common Core including discussing its qualitative problems
and the nexus between those problems and the perversion of our constitutional structure).
Bobby Jindal (website: http://www.bobbyjindal.com/)
Overall Grade: B+
Like many governors, Gov. Bobby Jindal was initially in favor of the Common Core
Standards. However, more recently, Jindal has made the repeal of the Standards a key issue.
Jindal has gone on record with his assertion that “[t]he federal government has hijacked
and destroyed the Common Core initiative.”130 (Of course, the idea that the Standards were
ever truly in the hands of the states is a myth.) Back in February, Jindal released a 42-page

plan on Education.131 That plan addresses many education issues and is notable, in several
respects, to the Common Core issues. In it, Jindal raises the quality of the Common Core,
something that most presidential candidates assiduously avoid. He also pinpoints a
pervasive cause of policy dysfunction in American education:
[T]he rollout and unraveling of [the Common Core] national initiative
has made it abundantly clear that the U.S. education establishment too
often does not respond to parents and local voters. Instead, federal
mandates, money, and threats bend officials’ necks stiffly towards
Washington.132
In his plan, he also notes that Common Core disenfranchises parents because private
entities drafted it through a private process that lacks the safeguards of a public process
(e.g., open meetings, record requests) through which neither the people nor their elected
representatives had a real say in the substance and because the Common Core inserts itself
between parent and child by promoting bad instructional practices (e.g., experimental
math).133 And in it he takes a firm stance on data and privacy issues.134
In the most recent (2015) legislative session, he favored a strong repeal bill. A
compromise bill made it through the legislature which, in the end, Jindal supported.135
Jindal was an early supporter of Common Core. But in 2014 he come out swinging against
it, although he occasionally lapses into a narrative that it was the federal involvement that
made it bad. He supported legislation to rid his state of Common Core. He has also sued
USED in federal court on the grounds that the Department’s Race to the Top programs was
coercive, violates federal law, and is contrary to the Constitution.136 Jindal stumbled out of
the gate on Common Core, but he has righted himself and has admirably pushed back
against the federal overreach.137

Jindal also has been very strong in trying to get Louisiana out of PARCC- like testing (which
would limit their data collection). He has issued executive orders, fought in lawsuits, and
this year severely restricted the state Department of Education’s with regard to the scope
and length of its new testing contract.
On June 4, 2014, Jindal signed HB 1199 (Act 436), which provides for parental access to
instructional materials in public schools and requires information about such access to be
included in parent orientation sessions. 138
On June 18, 2014, Jindal signed HB 1283 (Act 677), which provides for transparency as to
agreements made by public education agencies regarding the sharing of personally
identifiable student information.139
On June 18, 2014, Jindal signed SB 312 (Act 699), the “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” which
enumerates the rights of parents with public school children relative to their child’s
education. It includes nine enumerated rights that parents of public school children are
afforded, including but not limited to the right to: examine textbooks, curriculum, and
supplemental material used in their child’s classroom; inspect their child’s school records;
be notified if a criminal action is deemed to have been committed against their child or by
their child; be notified if law enforcement personnel question their child; be notified if their
child is taken or removed from the school campus without parental permission; and
receive written notice and have the option to opt their child out of instruction on topics
associated with sexual activity.140
On June 23, 2014, Jindal signed HB 1076 (Act 837), which prohibits the state from
procuring information from the student or the student’s family concerning political
affiliation, mental health, sexual behavior, income, and gun ownership, among other things,
without their personal consent. Not even the state education department will be allowed
to see or keep personal data on the state’s students. Students’ names, addresses, and other
information will be kept only at the local school district level.141
As with other candidates, it would be good for Jindal to detail his proposals for limiting
federal overreach in education. We think that, like Perry, Jindal should boldly proclaim his
record of fighting federal intrusion.

Jindal is a sitting governor. We hope that he continues his engagement in the Cause in
Louisiana even as he runs for president.
John Kasich (website: https://johnkasich.com/)
Overall Grade: F
Like Bush, Kasich is an unapologetic cheerleader for the Common Core. His only response
to the large and active anti-Common Core grassroots operation in Ohio is to make fun of
them.142
In May of last year, Governor Kasich said on a Cleveland radio program that the Common
Core Standards were “written by local school districts.”143 Governor Kasich continues to be
an ardent proponent of the Common Core standards --one who hook, line, and sinker
accepts the false talking points of the Common Core developers, owners, and funders.
Regarding Common Core, on June 4, 2015, Kasich said:
That is not something that Barack Obama is putting together. …It's local
school boards developing local curriculum to meet higher standards. I
cannot figure out what's wrong with that....
To a large degree, it's a runaway Internet campaign, as far as I'm
concerned in Ohio.144
During his remarks at the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit, Kasich once again
perpetuated the falsehood that “governors themselves” wrote the standards, and that
“[t]he local school boards have adopted the standards, and now the curriculum is being
written by local school boards.”145 Kasich has shown no sign of backing away from his vocal
and misguided support of the Standards. Additionally, Kasich has likened the grassroots
opposition to the Common Core to a hysteria.146
Kasich’s record in Ohio shows that as governor he has done more to violate the privacy of
students than protect it. Kasich’s 2014-2015 biennial budget created a $250 million fund to
provide grants to various educational groups for the development of innovative
educational programs. 147 Unfortunately, the 350 school districts currently participating in

the program are required to share extensive amounts of personally identifiable data on the
students and their parents without their knowledge or consent.
The types of educational records to be shared can be “any information recorded in any way,
including but not limited to; handwriting, print, computer media, video or audio tape,
microfilm and microfiche.” The Data Sharing Agreement offers no safeguards to protecting
the privacy of the participants stating, “[the] School District may disclose Personally
Identifiable Information from an Education Record of a student or parent without consent
if the disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational
agencies or institutions to improve instruction.” 148
The data shared with the authorized third parties are not anonymous or disaggregated in
any way. According to the Data Sharing Agreement, researchers can have access to a
student’s “social security number, biometric identifier, or student number.”149
On the issue of student data privacy, Kasich has exploited, not protected, the students and
families in Ohio.
Rand Paul (website: https://www.randpaul.com/)
Overall Grade: ASen. Rand Paul supported Senator Grassley's effort to defund the Common Core in 2013
and 2014. He co-signed a letter penned by Senator Chuck Grassley to the chair and vicechair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education that called for language to
be included prohibiting the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, ending the
federal government’s involvement in the Common Core testing consortium and preventing
USED from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core.
Sens. Paul and Cruz are the only senatorial candidates for president who co-signed
Grassley's letter.
Paul has paid more attention to the Common Core issue than most other candidates and
has spoken forcefully against it.150 In a fundraising email entitled, “Rotten to the core,” Paul
condemned the Common Core Standards as “anti-American propaganda, revisionist history
that ignores the faith of our Founders and data-tracking of students from kindergarten on.”

The email further called out Bush, Huckabee, Walker, and Christie as “prominent backers”
of the standards.151
On several occasions on the stump, Paul has advocated for unwinding USED. In Milford, NH
he stated:
For a long time in the Republican Party, there’s been a division—the
conservatives have always felt like, we don’t want much control of
education, very little if any at the federal level. We think education is a
state and local issue. But this battle has been fought for several decades
now. When Ronald Reagan won in 1980, it became part of the platform
that we were actually opposed to the Department of Education. I still
am. I think it ought to go back to the states.152
Paul allowed Sen. Lamar Alexander’s S.1177 to sail through committee on unanimous
consent.153 However, leading up to the floor vote on the bill, he authored a strong-op-ed
against the bill.154 He ultimately voted against the bill’s passage. He also voted in favor of
proposed S.AMDT 2180, Sen. Cruz’s proposal to return accountability to the states. Paul
also introduced an amendment (which did not receive a vote) to recognize the right of
parents to opt their children out of standardized tests, and co-sponsored Sen. Lee’s
amendment (S.AMDT 2162) addressing that issue.
Because of his well-articulated alarm about privacy threats, Paul should become a more
prominent champion of student privacy. With respect to the federal executive he has, on
other issues, offered bills and amendments that give federal legislators a cause of action to
curtail unauthorized federal action. Here, it would be welcomed if he would propose
similar legislation to protect states and their citizens.
Paul’s website is among the more detailed overall. We encourage Sen. Paul to add more
content on the Common Core issues, to raise the issue more often, and to speak in more
detail about his policy solutions. His remarks would be well-received by the Republican
base.
Rick Perry (website: https://rickperry.org/)

Overall Grade: B
Gov. Rick Perry is one of the few candidates, declared or prospective, who has opposed the
Common Core from the outset. As Governor, Rick Perry signed HB 462, which effectively
banned the Common Core from being adopted in Texas.155 As far back as 2010 Perry
refused to participate in the Race to the Top stampede, stating:
[W]e would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future
in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups
thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’
participation in their children’s education. If Washington were truly
concerned about funding education with solutions that match local
challenges, they would make the money available to states with no
strings attached.156
While running for President in 2012, Perry advocated for closing USED. On the stump this
cycle, Perry has continued his opposition to the Common Core and federalized education.
At the New England Council’s “Politics and Eggs” event on March 12, 2015, Perry told those
in attendance:
I’m pretty simple about the K-12 as a potential candidate for the United
States. That needs to be left up to the States. I don’t think there is much
of a role at all for the federal government. I think your governor, your
legislature working with your school administrators, your teachers, and
your parents—substantially better place for curriculum to be
developed, than a one-size-fits-all out of Washington, DC. If the
Department of Education needs to be a repository of good practices,
that might be a good final state for it. But I don’t think that Washington
needs to be this one-size-fits-all, this place where our healthcare, where
our transportation infrastructure, where education reform needs to
come from. Louis Brandeis, who is not exactly a well-known
conservative, former member of the US Supreme Court, said that the
states were laboratories of democracy. That states needed to
experiment and try different ideas out there. From time to time they’re
going to foul up. I will suggest to you, from my perspective, Colorado is
making an error in legalizing marijuana, but it’s exactly what Louis
Brandeis said. I don’t agree with it, but I respect their right to find out
they’re making a mistake. And the same is true about education policy.

I just think that people closer to the schools, closer to your state, closer
to understanding what the people of New Hampshire are all about:
you’ll come up with the best curriculum, you’ll find the ways to educate
your children substantially better than this one-size-fits-all that all too
often comes out of Washington, DC.157
Perry has been solid on the Common Core issue from the beginning.158
With regard to privacy, in 2013 Perry signed HB 2103, which created a data-sharing agency
for educational data governed by an appointed board rather than the state educational
agency. It appears that the data can only be shared within the state- with the exception of
inter-state sharing with other state departments of education. Among other problems, it
allows unfettered data-sharing among agencies designated as "cooperating agencies" --the
Texas Education Agency, the state higher-ed authority, and the Texas Workforce
Commission. It allows any researcher (no parameters on who is a legitimate researcher) to
get data if he uses "secure methods" and agrees to comply with the ineffective federal
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It requires each participating state
agency to make data available for the preceding 20 years, and allows data-sharing
agreements with "local agencies or organizations" that provide education services if "useful
to the conduct of research.”
We hope that he regrets his decision on HB 2103 and dedicates his efforts to reforming
federal law so that it actually protects the rights of students and families. We would like to
hear him state what he would do to protect state decision-making.
Marco Rubio (website: https://marcorubio.com/)
Overall Grade: C
Sen. Marco Rubio has spoken strongly against Common Core and wrote a letter to Secretary
Duncan in 2011 questioning the legality of using federal No Child Left Behind waivers to
drive policy changes, like the adoption of Common Core, in the states.159 In 2013 Rubio
was videotaped discussing his views on the Common Core State Standards and had this to
say:

And I am very concerned, and quite frankly opposed to any effort to try
to create some sort of national curriculum standard and then try to
leverage the power of the federal government’s funding to force states
to adopt a certain curriculum standard. State and local levels are the
best places to come up with curriculum reform, and it’s something the
federal government shouldn’t be deeply involved in.160
Recently he has even alluded to possibly being in favor of abolishing USED, as he has stated:
I believe in having a 21st century curriculum, but I believe it should be
done at the local and state level. And if you create some sort of national
standard, even as a suggestion, it will turn into a mandate the federal
government will force on our students and our local school boards and
you’re going to end up with a national school board.161
In response to a question on Common Core at the August 6, 2015 Fox News debate, Rubio
said:
. ..
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 do you things the way we want you to do it.
And they will use Common Core or any other requirements that exists
nationally to force it down the throats of our people in our states.
As Cato’s Neal McCluskey commented,162 Rubio is right to be concerned about what the
federal government might do because, well, it has already done those things. And, in fact,

that’s how the federal government, at the behest of special interests, pushed the Common
Core into the states.
Rubio’s answer ignores the immediate most pressing concern of parents, grandparents,
and teachers. It gives short shrift to the parents who have been fighting this. We fight it
primarily because of what the federal government has done to our children --not because
of what it might theoretically do.
Another problem with Rubio’s answer is that it skirts around the nexus between the poor
quality of the Common Core and federal involvement. In late 2008, private groups
convinced the incoming Obama Administration to push the standards into the states with a
carrot-and-stick approach.163 Those private groups then drafted the Common Core
standards in response to the ensuing federal grants. They drafted the standards on the
premise that they would be a monopoly. They did not draft them on the premise that the
standards would have to pass parental muster or would have to be better than world-class
standards like the old Massachusetts standards. Rubio skirted these all-important issues
by casting the problem as potential rather than presently existing.
Rubio’s official website does not specifically address the issue of Common Core. However, it
does states that in order to prepare people to “seize their opportunities in the new
economy,” high schools should graduate more students “ready to work.” It is hard to parse
from this general statement what the education policies would look like under a Rubio
Administration. What does Rubio believe would validate a student as "work ready"? Would
it be the further alignment of our K-12 education system to the projected demands of
specific sectors of the economy to train workers for favored big-businesses, which would
mean more of the Chamber of Commerce-endorsed Common Core? Or, does it mean
aligning education to the demands of parents and the local community as a whole, which
would mean more local control? It would behoove Senator Rubio to answer these questions
and to discuss the qualitative aspects of the Common Core and whether he believes the
federal involvement helped, or hurt, the quality of the standards.
Sen. Rubio voted against Sen. Lamar Alexander’s S.1177, (the reauthorization of No Child
Left Behind) and in favor of proposed S.AMDT 2180, Sen. Cruz’s proposal to return
accountability to the states. These are positive steps and should be recognized because
Rubio faced intense pressure from Republican leadership to do the opposite.
However, Sen. Rubio failed to cast a vote on Sen. Lee’s amendment (S.AMDT 2162)
addressing the right of parents to opt their children out of standardized tests. His staff

reports that he was absent on that day. We find this troubling, especially in light of his
record on student privacy.
Relevant to the privacy issue, Rubio is co-sponsoring the Student Right to Know Before You
Go Act (S. 1195), which would create a federal database on students for at least 15 years
after they enter the workforce. It is troubling that Rubio advocates a limited role for
government in the activities of the American people, yet fails to see the problem with the
governmental tracking and collecting data on all citizens.
Rick Santorum (website: http://www.ricksantorum.com/)
Overall Grade: B
Santorum’s website addresses the problem of Common Core in terms of both federal
overreach and the substance of the standards. While many other candidates do the former,
few address the latter.
From its beginning, the Common Core State Standards initiative has
flown under the radar. Its funding, its implementation, and the
substance of the standards it proposes have received little public
attention, but all of them are wrong for families, wrong for students,
and wrong for our teachers.
This relates to voters that, with or without the federal government’s involvement,
Santorum understands the adoption of Common Core was still a bad decision due to its
poor quality.
Notably, long before it was fashionable to do so, Santorum publicly acknowledged that the
Common Core is an attempt to nationalize the curriculum early on in its implementation
during a speech in 2012 at the Republican National Convention in Tampa:
A solid education should be the second rung on the ladder to success,
but the system is failing. President Obama's solution has been to deny
parents choice, attack private schools and nationalize curriculum and
student loans.

Rick Santorum has been advocating for a “parents’ revolution” in education.164 He has also
stated that, as president, he would sign a bill that would repeal the Common Core. While
speaking to a group of state legislators, Santorum stated:
Finally on education, I said that we don’t need Common Core. I don’t
know of any teacher in America who thinks that the reason we have
drop out rates of 50% in our worst schools is because of education
standards. Education standards is not the problem in the schools that
are failing. The problem is that we do not have parents who are
engaged with the education enterprise in their home and in schools.
I am as tough on public education as anybody, but I am sick and tired of
the scapegoating of teachers and administrators as if it is their problem,
and they’re the only reason schools are failing. That is not true. We all
have to take and shoulder that responsibility. We need to have an
honest discussion about a revolution in education and the last thing
that we need is elites in our culture telling us what should be taught in
our schools. What we need are parents to be fully engaged in that area,
in every aspect, and begin to not just engage them, but talk about the
importance of them for their children’s future and America’s future.165
Although Santorum voted for No Child Left Behind when it passed the Senate in 2001, he
has since described that vote as “a mistake.”166 We give a candidate credit for truly
admitting a mistake.
We encourage Santorum to elaborate on what he would do as president to rein in the
federal government and to raise the Common Core issues more robustly and frequently in
his speeches and remarks.167
Donald Trump (website: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/)

Overall Grade: BOn several occasions, Trump has criticized Jeb Bush for supporting Common Core. At the
Iowa Freedom Summit in January, Trump told the crowd, “[Bush is] totally in favor of
Common Core – that’s a disaster – it’s bad. It should be local and all of that.”168
At the Iowa Family Leadership Conference, Trump stated: “Common Core has to be ended.
It’s a disaster. It’s a way of taking care of the people in Washington that, frankly, I don’t
even think they give a damn about education, half of them. And I’m sure some of you maybe
do.”169
Trump has struck a chord with the Republican base, something many would have thought
unlikely a year ago. Citizens view him as having the courage and will to stand and fight,
something that many GOP candidates have seemed to lack in years past. As the primary
cycle wears on, the base will want to hear more detail from Trump as well as other
candidates. The candidate who does this will engender the gratitude of parents and other
citizens. Trump would do well to blaze the trail on this.
Scott Walker (https://www.scottwalker.com/)
Overall Grade: D+
Until recently, Governor Walker’s rhetoric on Common Core has been good. He admits that,
when he ran in 2010, it wasn’t on his radar and that’s certainly understandable given how
the standards were pushed into the states. He rightly gives credit to the state’s citizens for
making it an issue, something that may not seem like a big deal, but it is to activists who
have been ridiculed as irrational by elitists in both parties.
Walker’s comments on Common Core include:170
September 25, 2013 (Wisconsin State Journal): “I’d like to have
Wisconsin have its own unique standards that I think can be higher than
what’s been established and what’s been talked about at the national
level.”
The above statement –made on the heels of increasing activism and debate about the

Common Core-- seems to be the first time in which the Governor spoke publicly about the
Common Core. Subsequent statements by the Governor include:
July 17, 2014 (Press Release): “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.”
July 18, 2014 (La Crosse Tribune/Associated Press): “Whatever is
adopted may not differ significantly from Common Core standards. It’s
one of those where they’ll have to adjust some things, some of the things
may very well parallel, other things will be different.”
December 18, 2014 (The Blaze): “[My goal is to] remove any mandate
that requires a school district to abide by Common Core standards.”
January 17, 2015 (WLUK FOX 11 Green Bay/Appleton): “I also want
[the legislature] to make it perfectly clear in the statutes that school
districts do not have to use [C]ommon [C]ore, and that we take it a step
further and we work with the legislature making sure there aren’t things
like the Smarter Balanced test going forward that require the schools to
use a test that’s based on the Common Core.”171
In The Federalist (Dec. 2014), Joy Pullmann (a Wisconsin native) summed up Walker’s
approach to Common Core:
. . . Now, there’s a huge difference between a governor issuing a
statement and a governor putting muscle behind his statement. Anyone
can say anything, and they usually do. The trick is to tell when a
politician means something. Walker doesn’t appear to mean anything
except “please don’t withhold votes from me as I continue to ignore
you, GOP base.” Both state lawmakers and local GOP leaders in
Wisconsin have told me Walker’s been essentially running away from
Common Core ever since it became an issue.172
Sometimes legislation gets watered down despite the intrepid efforts of its proponents. At
other times, a nominal proponent gives it lip service but fails to fight and, thereby, actually

signals that he will not raise an objection if the legislation is defeated or watered down. On
the Common Core, Walker is in the latter category.
He has not fought the issue with vigor and has thus paved the way for the status quo. If
there were any question in that regard, he has resolved it by arguing that he “put in my
budget language that said, that pulls back on it and says no school district has to use it….”
He argues that this the budget language acts as a repeal of the Common Core because,
“What it does, the language we put in explicitly says school districts don’t have to, and that
the language in there… there is not a law that says they have to do Common Core.”173
However, as Breitbart’s Dr. Susan Berry wrote, Walker’s response is somewhat misleading:
Many states make state standards advisory in nature, allowing local
school board a semblance of autonomy. What is almost never advisory,
however, is the state test. In fact, for most states, the state test is
always mandatory, which makes Walker’s argument that his proposal
“ensures locally-approved standards set at the local level by local
administrators, educators, and parents,” disingenuous.
“In other words, Walker’s response is true but misleading,” Wurman
added. “Wisconsin school districts retain the theoretical authority to
adopt their own standards, but since they will be judged by a CommonCore-like state test on Common-Core state standards, this is a fake
authority. What Walker is saying is ‘Sure, you can select any standards
you want, but you will still be judged on my test, aligned with my
standards.’”174
Stop Common Core Wisconsin has issued a letter, signed by 58 activists, criticizing the
governor’s actions and his failure to provide true leadership on the issue.175
Governor Walker's lack of leadership to secure the support of the Wisconsin legislature to
advance proposed bills protecting the privacy of student data, while simultaneously
procuring their support to fund expanding data collection systems, has negatively affected
his overall score on the issue. For example, Walker failed to champion AB 616, introduced
by Wisconsin Representative Tom Larson, which would have prevented the collection of
student biometric data (e.g., retinal scans, facial expressions, heart rate monitors, etc.).
Likewise, after passing the State Assembly, AB 618, introduced by Representative Don

Pridemore to curtail the Common Core and related data collection, died in the Senate after
it failed to get a "hand up" from Walker. His lack of leadership on the matter was
noteworthy.
Nonetheless, Walker was willing to use his power and influence to secure funding in the
state budget for the State Student Information System (SSIS), which is essentially the
linchpin for enhanced data flow. SSIS expands collection, storage, and flow capabilities to
keep up with increasing data coming from formative and summative assessments, daily
assignments, etc, in relationship to Common Core and workforce development initiatives.
At the heart of it, Walker brings the Common Core issue back to square one: the
propagation of an invalid message for the purpose of advancing a public relations message
and premised on the idea that a public relations message will crowd out the facts. In the
beginning, the invalid message was that Common Core is state-led, of high quality, etc. and
the objective was to make Common Core inevitable and swamp arguments to the contrary.
Now, the invalid message is that Walker led Wisconsin out of Common Core and that the
movement against Common Core and federal overreach should support his candidacy.

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