Common Core: Why Arkansas politicians won’t get rid of it

common core 02Common Core is hated by many teachers, parents, and students. Social media is full of examples of the crazy and inefficient way Common Core teaches math to our children. When the Family Council released its candidate survey for the 2016 primaries, it was evident from the survey many politicians see Common Core as toxic and many responded they opposed the federal Common Core.

With so much opposition to Common Core will it be on the legislature’s chopping block? No – it is headed to the beauty parlor for a fresh image.

Parents and teachers are headed to defeat for one reason: “THE LOVE OF MONEY.” Common Core comes as a carrot and stick – federal money. Politicians love the money more than the children of our state.

Indiana was the first state to repeal Common Core.  Almost immediately the federal government sent a letter to Indiana officials warning them that Indiana must have standards that are as challenging as the Common Core standards or the state will lose federal No Child Left Behind funds. [i]

We wish it wasn’t so, but what Common Core opponents will be offered is a new name for Common Core and some program tweaks that are carefully crafted to stay so close to the Common Core standards as to continue to qualify for the federal money.

If you oppose Common Core and want to know how the Governor and legislature will respond to your complaints, all you need to do is watch how they handle the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion in the Special Session of the Legislature scheduled to begin April 6.

Both Common Core and Obamacare Medicaid Expansion programs are on amazingly similar paths.

  1. TASK FORCE: In 2015 the Governor headed off efforts to end both Common Core and Obamacare Medicaid Expansion (called Private Option in Arkansas). He had the staff of the Department of Human Services draft a bill for his Senator nephew to establish the Health Reform Legislative Task Force to study how to continue to serve the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion population, and he created the Governor’s Council on Common Core Review.
  2. SPECIAL INTERESTS: Federal money for Obamacare Medicaid Expansion benefits two powerful business interests: hospitals and insurance companies. Federal money tied to complying with Common Core benefits Arkansas’ Department of Education, school districts, book publishers, and testing companies.
  3. RE-BRAND: The Health Reform Legislative Task Force adopted the Governor’s plan to keep Obamacare Medicaid Expansion by rebranding it with a new name, “Arkansas Works”, and making some tweaks that are still in full compliance with the long list of federal requirements. The Governor’s Council on Common Core Review decided Arkansas should continue using Common Core for now but conduct a review of where to change and replace the education standards. In other words – tweak it. A new name for Common Core may be in the works too: “I hope the conversation can shift away from a brand, which Common Core state standards is a brand, to what are the Arkansas standards that we need to have the ability to move our state forward,” – State Education Commissioner Johnny Key.[ii]

The plan for both programs is to claim tweaks are something significant while continuing to run the federal maze to do anything to keep the money flowing.

Common Core is like “Hotel California” – “You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.” States wanting to check out are faced with two choices: (1) leave in name only; or (2) leave behind federal money. That leaves only one question: will the new name for Common Core be as catchy as the new name for Obamacare Medicaid Expansion?