Common Core in Arkansas schools was a huge issue in the 2014 legislative races. Many parents and teachers vehemently oppose Common Core because: (1) Some standards are just goofy and result in teaching methods that are more of a hindrance than a help for most students; and (2) Some object to the federal government setting education standards for Arkansas.
Common Core would not exist in Arkansas but for one factor – MONEY. The federal government requires Common Core standards as a condition for receiving a substantial amount of federal education money. Little Rock politicians don’t want to pass up any federal money, even if it means selling your children’s education to the feds. It is also likely that your local school board prefers the money too.
In 2011, the Arkansas State Board of Education obtained authority to impose Common Core on public schools and you didn’t notice it. That is because the authorization was tucked on page 6 of a 35-page bill with the innocuous title “TO AMEND VARIOUS PROVISIONS OF ARKANSAS CODE TITLE 6 CONCERNING PUBLIC EDUCATION.”[i]
Common Core is based on the idea that uniformity in education is better than diversity among the states, and on the progressive idea that the federal government is better at setting the education standards for your children than states, school boards or parents. Common Core was offered with the knowledge that state politicians will jump through any hoop in order to get federal money.
If the elimination of Common Core was such a big issue in 2014, why didn’t legislators try to repeal Arkansas’ participation during the 2015 legislative session? Because, Governor Asa Hutchinson derailed the effort before the legislative session convened. Hutchinson announced there would be a task force to study Common Core.[ii] The creation of a task force allowed the Governor to punt the issue down the field for two years, when perhaps there would be less passion about the negative effects of Common Core.
As expected, the task force recommended the state continue Common Core for now, and recommended the state look at individual standards that have caused the most complaints.[iii] The following month Governor Hutchinson suggested the name “Common Core State Standards” be dropped.[iv]
The tactic of tweaking and renaming has been a successful tactic for the Governor. Earlier this year he tweaked the “Private Option” which was Arkansas’ version of Obamacare Medicaid Expansion and renamed it “Arkansas Works.”
Will you be satisfied if the state merely tweaks some Common Core standards only to the extent allowed by the federal government without jeopardizing federal funding tied to Common Core?
If not, and you still want to end Common Core it is crucial to know where your school board candidates and legislative candidates stand on Common Core. School elections are scheduled for September 20, 2016 and other elections are November 8, 2016.
It is not enough to ask “Are you for the repeal of Common Core?” You need to know “Are you for Arkansas eliminating Common Core even if it means giving up federal funding that is tied to Common Core?” Otherwise it is just a matter of tweaking and renaming.
With Common Core being a state issue, why did we suggest talking to your school board candidates? Because, without your school board members telling your state Senator and Representative, “We are willing to give up the money” many legislators will assume your school board cares more about the federal money than parent’s complaints.
Why do we say time is running out for Common Core Opponents? Because, Governor Hutchinson’s plan for the January 2017 legislative session is to rename and tweak Common Core. If opponents want their voice heard time is short. If opponents wait until next January it will be even harder to be heard amongst hundreds of other issues being considered by the legislature.
If you prefer to keep Common Core and the federal money, history is on your side.
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Still not sure what the complaints of parents are all about? Here are some additional resources.
Anti-Common Core Perspective
See the Facebook page of: Arkansas Against Common Core.
Here are a few YouTube videos from the Anti-Common Core perspective:
Pro-Common Core Perspective
The best place to begin for the Pro-Common Core perspective is: corestandards.org
[ii] “He said the state’s education commissioner will put together a task force of educators and parents to review the Common Core standards and what changes need to be made in Arkansas.” Hutchinson to push quick vote on tax cut, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 01/07/2015
[iii] Keep Common Core for now as review conducted, panel says, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 07/30/2015
[iv] “Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday urged that anticipated revisions to the state’s math and English/language arts standards include dropping the “Common Core State Standards” name.” Ax Common Core name, governor says, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 08/13/2015