Common Core is not the evil tea party followers believe it is

June 7, 2014 

The tea party subsidiary of the Republican Party has tossed wrenches into the orderly process of politics and government from near and far. From Alaska came Sarah Palin, the governor the GOP nominated for vice president in 2008 whose wacky conspiracy-theory politics continue to make her a nice living on the lecture circuit.

Then there was the merry band of tea party followers in Congress who stood ready to take the country over the brink by fighting routine raises of the debt ceiling. Economic depression? Oh, what’s the big deal, they seemed to say. In state legislatures, including North Carolina, tea party zealots continue to lead the GOP down a sorry path of anti-government policies from kicking the poor and the disabled to the curb with cuts in Medicaid to attacking any Republican who dares to stick a toe in the mainstream.

The crusade of late by the tea party in this state and elsewhere has been to eliminate the Common Core State Standards for public education created by the National Governors Association and state schools chiefs. The standards establish measures by which students and schools can determine whether young people are prepared for their post-high school lives of higher education and work.

McCrory a question

Now the Common Core standards are in danger, with both houses of the General Assembly having passed measures doing away with them. Gov. Pat McCrory is against dumping the standards, but he is ambivalent about whether he will veto the legislature’s reckless action.

Yes, the standards are higher in terms of course requirements than they used to be, and 45 states, including this one, adopted them on the belief that they would provide states with insight as to how their students stacked up against those from around the country. That, in turn, will give states and the nation a perspective on how American students stand against those around the world with whom they’ll compete in the global marketplace ... of ideas and of work.

The standards make sense for students who want to achieve and for parents who want to know how their kids are really doing. And, as evidenced by a full-page advertisement taken out by business leaders and education officials in The News & Observer last week, they make sense for business.

That makes it so curious as to why leaders of the business-friendly Republican Party in the General Assembly would preside over the abandonment of Common Core in favor of state-established standards that lawmakers say they want to be just as high as Common Core’s.

They just make sense

The only explanation is that those GOP leaders are being led around by tea party extremists who truly believe that Common Core is some kind of big-government conspiracy designed to indoctrinate students into what ... they don’t know. And the tea party types believe, surely, that their big enemy, President Obama, is behind it all.

That’s ludicrous. Governors and school officials, people of both major parties and varying political and educational philosophies, came up with and supported Common Core because it made sense.

Some GOP lawmakers want state education officials to come up with new standards in lieu of Common Core right now, something state Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson rightly says would be “virtually impossible.”

Once again, GOP lawmakers are legislating based on wild ideology based on suspicion and imagination and little else. Will they ever have the courage to say “Enough!” to the destructive extremists of their party?

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