Family Research Council

February 20, 2014 - Thursday

Farmers among Common Core De-Tractors

People aren't just having a cow over Common Core -- they're selling them off in protest! In Alabama, one rancher felt so strongly about the President's education takeover that he offered to donate cattle to fund an anti-Common Core townhall. And he isn't the only one with hard (herd?) feelings. People from across the political and academic spectrum are resisting the White House's attempt to corral the states into a one-size-fits-all education scheme.

In states where the benchmarks have already been adopted, the idea is so radioactive that leaders are trying to change the program's name to boost its image: Arizona's "College and Career Ready Standards," Idaho Core, Iowa Core, and my personal favorite -- "Next General Sunshine State Standards." In the Grand Canyon State, there couldn't be a bigger chasm between parents and the policy. Like other Republican Governors, Jan Brewer is trying to repackage the idea -- even going so far as to sign an executive order scrubbing "Common Core" from the math and reading criteria. But, to borrow a line from William Shakespeare, a Common Core by any other name would smell as fishy.

Unfortunately for the President, who has had his share of credibility problems, those two little words are having a big impact on the Democrats' base. Usually reliable allies, like U.S. teachers unions, are pulling their support by the tens of thousands of members. Earlier this week, the National Education Association (NEA), the country's largest teachers union, sent shudders through the Left by withdrawing its endorsement. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, who represents more than three million members, didn't pull any punches, blaming the government for botching yet another rollout. Based on its internal polling, 70% of NEA teachers object to how Common Core is being introduced to schools (which isn't surprising given that two-thirds of teachers were never asked for their input in the first place).

"The very people expected to deliver universal access to high quality standards with high quality instruction have not had the opportunity to share their expertise and advice," Van Roekel explained. "Consequently, NEA members have a right to feel frustrated, upset, and angry about the poor commitment to implementing the standards correctly." First, Common Core took parents out of the equation -- now teachers. That leaves Big Government bureaucrats whose ultimate goal is more than implementing a national standard, but a radical political agenda that kills innovation, parents' rights, and state sovereignty.

Apart from being untested and unproven, opponents see the standards as another way for the government to inject liberal messages into American textbooks. (And based on Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville's recent comments that "children belong to all of us," they're right to be concerned.) For now, the Obama administration will continue to pitch the standards to states, sweetening the deal with millions in leftover "Race to the Top" funds for any state officials who bite. But as the 45 states who have agreed will tell you, the program comes with more strings attached than Pinocchio -- making the five holdouts (Texas, Alaska, Virginia, Nebraska, and Minnesota) look wiser by the day.

Meanwhile, the President does have a few allies -- like Missouri's Rep. Mike Lair (contact him here), an Establishment Republican and former teacher who decided to mock conservatives for objecting Common Core by adding an $8 appropriations amendment to the state's budget for tin foil hats. (A joke his colleagues didn't find too funny, as this photo shows.) The official request, which Lair insists was only semi-serious, would fund "two rolls of high density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and /or black helicopter mind reading and control technology." But at $8, the idea wouldn't be nearly as wasteful as Common Core is proving to be!

The Wages of Spin Are Death -- for Jobs

This White House doesn't like being challenged -- especially by the facts. Unfortunately for the Obama administration, there's no shortage of facts about the negative effects of its push to raise the minimum wage according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Based on the government's own analysts, boosting the minimum wage to $10.10/hour could cost America a half-million jobs. "Our analysis is quite consistent with the latest thinking by economists," said CBO Director Doug Elmendorf, who heads up the nonpartisan group.

The White House disagrees, and spent quite a bit of spin yesterday discrediting the report. In an informal survey of the Democrats' economic friends, the President insists they found "little or no effect" to jobs. Elmendorf fired back that these experts weren't randomly sampled and never bothered to quantify what that "effect" would be. Try as they might, the administration can't seem to bully the CBO out of its unflattering conclusion. Meanwhile, as the Democrats try to present themselves as populists by pushing legislation -- not just on minimum wage, but on unemployment benefits, the reality is that the biggest job killer -- ObamaCare -- is already pummeling workers and their families. Once again, the President's policies hurt the very people he claims to want to help.

Lincoln Logs Time in FRC Spotlight

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass never faced each other on a public stage, as Lincoln famously did with Illinois's Democratic Sen. Stephen A. Douglas in what history terms the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Still, Frederick Douglass did engage the first Republican president in debates. Frederick Douglass spoke, wrote, and buttonholed leading political figures of his day in opposition to Lincoln's policies in five distinct areas. When Lincoln was moved by the logic of events to embrace policies advocated by Douglass, he vocally gave his support. It was a fast-moving, ever-changing scene. FRC Senior Fellow Bob Morrison led a policy lecture yesterday that showed the parallels between the role of "outside" groups -- like the abolitionists and church-based organizations of the 1860s -- and the role such groups play in today's ongoing public policy debates. If you missed this great event, click below.

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Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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