Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee a few weeks ago came out in support of the Common Core State Standards on his radio program. Governor Huckabee said, “Parents and people involved in their local schools should let it be known that core standards are valuable, and they’re not something to be afraid of—they are something to embrace.”
He then criticized the Republican National Committee for their resolution citing opposition to the Common Core State Standards. “It’s disturbing to me that there have been criticisms directed by the RNC. I think that’s very short-sighted,” Huckabee said.
I’ve received numerous emails from conservatives, in particular social conservatives, who are perplexed and dismayed by the Governor’s position on this.
It didn’t come as a shock to me. I wrote back in 2011 that Governor Huckabee had a complex position on education. I wrote how he supported the Race to the Top program in his book, A Simple Government:
I am extremely disappointed by his support of Race to the Top. He writes, “although I believe education should be left to the states, I fully endorse the new federal program Race to the Top, which has states compete for additional education funds, allowing them to decide what reforms to enact rather than having specific reforms imposed on them from above,” (pg. 100).
He goes on to say, “it’s a very clever way to prod states to embrace much needed reform just out of the hope of getting federal money, without actually promising any particular state anything.”
So this program is good because, it is a good idea. Governor Huckabee would be all right if there were a Good Idea Clause in our Constitution, but there is not. I’m going to assume that Governor Huckabee isn’t really aware of the details of this program. If he were I would like to think he wouldn’t support it.
First this program is a scheme by the Obama administration to further entrench the Federal government in education. There was little, if any, public feedback given for this program. No opportunity to debate it. It was made possible by a $4.35 billion increase in discretionary money, an “executive earmark” so to speak, in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. You know the “stimulus” bill to create jobs.
So Race to the Top was designed as carrot and stick program, which Governor Huckabee thinks is a good thing, “a clever way to prod states to embrace much needed reform,” to use his words. So this program gave directives to states who were strapped for cash to adopt the Common Core Standards (I thought he was against federal standards?) and make other education policy changes just so they can be competitive for these grants.
To be clear here, under this grant scheme, even if a state’s application was perfect, it would be uncompetitive to receive funds without the adoption of the standards.
So he was already leaning that direction even though he did not express support for the Common Core back then. I also believe he is being disingenuous with his remarks. The problem isn’t with the concept of “core standards” in a state. The problem is with how these standards were implemented. Who wrote the standards? Was their ample opportunity for public feedback at the state level? Was the state legislature involved? There are issues with the content of the Common Core State Standards and we have issues with the potential cost.
So the Republican National Committee is spot on in their opposition to the Common Core and Governor Huckabee, while I agree with him on many issues, he is dead wrong on this. By advocating the Common Core State Standards he then also gives tacit approval of the bypass of our elected representatives, sub par standards and increase in state spending on a reform that has no data that indicates it will increase student achievement.
Photo by Dave Davidson (Used with permission)