Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is taking on the controversial Common Core state education standards saying in a draft resolution that what was intended to be a state initiative was “transformed into an incentive-based mandate from the federal government.”
Graham will introduce a draft of the Senate resolution sometime in the middle of next week, TheBlaze has learned.
The draft of the resolution states that “national standards lead to national assessments and national assessments lead to national curriculum.” And, while stating a clear need for challenging education standards, the resolution states, “blanket education standards should not be a prerequisite for federal funding.”
The draft resolves three key points: 1) that state and local agencies should be responsible for education; 2) that the federal government should not provide incentives for the adoption of common education standards; 3) no application process for federal grants should be contingent on adoption of national standards.
The resolution comes as opposition is building against Common Core in one unlikely avenue, as the New York State United Teachers, the state’s public school teacher union, announced formal oppositions to the standards.
The Senate resolution is in opposition to the potential for a national curriculum pushed through with $4.3 billion in U.S. Department of Education grants, under the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program.
Common Core education standards were adopted by 45 states for English and math for kindergarten through 12th grade. Though not formally a set of national standards, many critics believe it has become de facto standards through an Obama administration’s carrot and stick approach.
The resolution notes that the standards are pushed by national organizations such as the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It is also supported by several national teacher unions. The resolution says that Common Core State Standards “was originally led by national organizations but was transformed into an incentive-based mandate from the federal government.”
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 prohibits the establishment of national curriculum, national testing, mandatory national teacher certification and a national student database.
But this could expand beyond a public school matter, as the Graham resolution predicts, “the implementation of Common Core State Standards will eventually impact home school and private schools students when institutions of higher education are pressured to align their admission and readiness standards with curricula based on Common Core State Standards.”
The Senate resolution is a good start, David Christensen, vice president of government affairs for the Family Research Council, told TheBlaze. Christensen believes the resolution has the potential to garner bipartisan support.
“The administration is using Race to the Top funds to get states to support Common Core. I hear that some governors are having second thoughts,” Christensen said. “Our concerns is this curriculum might have the potential to affect home schoolers and private schools.”
The Senate resolution quotes President Barack Obama from a July 24, 2009 speech.
“I am issuing a challenge to our nation’s governors and school boards, principles and teachers, business and non-profits, parents and students: If you set and enforce rigorous and challenging education standards and assessments; if you put outstanding teachers at the front of the classroom; if you turn around failing schools – your state can win a Race to the Top grant that will not only help student out-compete workers around the world, but let them fulfill their God-given potential.”
It further quotes Education Secretary Arne Duncan stated, “The $4,350,000,000 Race to the Top program that we are unveiling today is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Federal Government to create incentives for far-reaching improvement in our nation’s schools.” Duncan continued, “But I want to be clear that Race to the Top is also a reform competition, one where states can increase or decrease their odds of winning federal support.”
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