Conservatives remain critical of Common Core

 Conservative education analysts across the nation remain unconvinced about the wisdom of federal Common Core standards, linked to implementation of the waiver Oklahoma education officials recently obtained from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) strictures.

The analyses are not without some impact in the policy arena. From South Carolina, the Associated Press reports on the efforts of a Greenville Republican, state Sen. Mike Fair, to block implementation of Common Core standards adopted two years ago by that state’s board of education.

Fair pressed his effort to block Common Core, and hearings on the issue were scheduled to continue this week. His efforts were bolstered when Governor Nikki Haley backed his critique, saying in a letter to Sen. Fair, “Just as we should not relinquish control of education to the federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states.”

Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi is pressing for the Common Core in Oklahoma, and has support from Governor Mary Fallin. Like Haley, both of the Oklahoma women are conservative Republicans. The National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and many chambers of Commerce also back the Common Core.

However, a variety of national conservative organizations have sharply criticized the Common Core, and the NCLB waiver process. Many critiques are centered about policy issues, but some of the sharpest criticisms have focused on the legality of the waiver process itself.

Here in Oklahoma, a grass roots group, Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE), is circulating Gov. Haley’s comments to members of the Oklahoma Legislature. ROPE opposes federalization of curriculum questions.

In addition to its curriculum critiques, ROPE questions development of the Common Core, also raising red flags about shifts away from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and toward recommendations of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).