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Some Governors and Common Core: “Hot Friends Cooling”

December 26, 2013

Hoping to advance your own political career? Better be quiet about Common Core.

Amazing how a number of formerly outspoken, pro-CCSS governors have strategically opted for silence (or some other form of distance) regarding the now-highly-charged CCSS.

New York: Andrew Cuomo

It seems, for example, that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has become somewhat of “a hot friend cooling” on the issue:

North Country Public Radio reported last week that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) has appeared to remove himself from the controversial Common Core.

“In recent days, Cuomo seems to have cooled from his initial endorsement of the rapid transition to the adoption of the national education standards,” wrote Karen DeWitt.

Asked by a reporter about the Common Core standards, Cuomo removed himself from the discontent that has generated boisterous meetings with state education officials, parents, and teachers.

In Staten Island, Cuomo referred to the implementation of the new standards as “problematic,” and, in Lake Placid, acknowledged, “It’s been very controversial. It’s very controversial here in the state.”

Cuomo’s comments differed from those of just a month ago, when he focused more on how the change to a new system can be hard.

Arkansas: Mike Huckabee

Outspoken support for CCSS is no longer fashionable for those wishing to advance their own political careers– quite the litmus test for a governor’s true allegiance. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has strategically tempered his support for CCSS. Mind you, he isn’t saying that his former, obvious support for CCSS has changed (that would not be strategic); he’s just quieter, is all:

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has now put himself on the list of potential Republican candidates for president in 2016, which explains, perhaps, why he is backing off his once outspoken support of  the Common Core State Standards initiative — even while insisting that his original backing made sense. 

A few months is a lifetime in politics. … Now that Huckabee is interested in winning over the super-conservative base of the Republican Party that has control of the presidential primary and caucus process, Common Core support isn’t a popular position for him to take.

Louisiana: Bobby Jindal

The strategy is to back off without admitting any change. Perhaps the best at playing such a card is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Instead of saying he is against CCSS (know that Jindal’s allegiance is to Jindal), he now states that he is against “a national or federalized curriculum”:

“We support rigor and high academic standards that help ensure Louisiana students are getting the best possible education,” Jindal said.

“What we do not support is a national or federalized curriculum,” the governor added. “We need Louisiana standards, not Washington, D.C., standards.”

Jindal chose his words carefully. He does not use the term, “Common Core,” and he purposely uses the term, “curriculum,” one that has already received attention on the CCSS site.

Thus, Jindal never says he is against Common Core State Standards, a politically safe choice of words.

Still, it may not be enough in 2016 for Jindal to recover from his having called the Republican Party “the stupid party” in January 2013.

Arizona: Jan Brewer

Another way for a governor to distance herself from CCSS is to officially rename it– which is what Arizona Governor Jan Brewer did in September 2013:

Gov. Jan Brewer has issued an executive order renaming the state’s new Common Core academic standards and reaffirming that Arizona is acting independently from the federal government. … The state’s academic standards will now be called “Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.” [Emphasis added.]

Brewer changes the name, and voila!, any influence of the federal government on this “state-led effort” is magically nullified. Never mind the $25 million Arizona received in Race to the Top (RTTT) funding and Brewer’s submitting the RTTT application in 2010.

Then There’s Duncan

It is no surprise that governors are  attempting to distance themselves (and their political futures) from the volatile CCSS. In contrast, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan cannot seem to keep his mouth closed on the issue.

Duncan should have taken Fordham Institute President Chester Finn’s April 2012 advice on the federal government’s promoting CCSS:

[Finn] said it’s “a pity” that Obama insisted upon the Common Core, especially leading up to the 2012 elections. “The best thing the administration, or the Congress, for that matter, could do is to pretend that the Common Core doesn’t exist.”  [Emphasis added.]

Finn is not against CCSS, far from it. He just wants to be strategic about pushing CCSS forward.

Duncan should have listened before he insulted those “white suburban moms.”

What About the Kids?

As for those “hot governors strategically cooling” toward CCSS, at least on one point they remain constant:

The well being of children never was the primary priority.

4 Comments
  1. “The well being of children never was the primary priority.”

    So true! Sadly, so true!

  2. Nice cap on the Salazar comments, enough already!
    Have you ever read Life on the Mississippi? There’s a chapter about the riverboat pilot’s association. I keep thinking that teachers should have something like that. Like, “we have this special knowledge, and only share it with the initiated…”

  3. Oklahoma’s State Super Baressi did the same thing Gov. Brewer did. She changed the name on the state website to the Oklahoma Academic Standards. When you click on the name, it takes you directly to the CC website. Nobody here in Oklahoma was fooled.

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