GOP Sens. Blast Obama ‘Coercion’ of Schools Through Common Core

Nine Republican senators on Wednesday joined the outcry against Common Core State Standards for education introducing a Senate resolution insisting that federal grants should be tied to adopting what critics believe are de facto national standards.

Karima Hawkins of Jackson, foreground, holds a sign against Common Core, the State Standards Initiative that established a single set of educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics, at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. (AP/Rogelio V. Solis)

“The Obama administration has effectively bribed and coerced states into adopting Common Core,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement Wednesday. “Blanket education standards should not be a prerequisite for federal funding. In order to have a competitive application for some federal grants and flexibility waivers, states have to adopt Common Core. This is simply not the way the Obama administration should be handling education policy. Our resolution affirms that education belongs in the hands of our parents, local officials and states.”

Graham’s South Carolina colleague, Sen. Tim Scott, joined as a co-sponsor to the resolution, as did Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, and Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

TheBlaze first reported last week that Graham was seeking co-sponsors for the draft resolution.

Common Core are education standards for greades K-12 in math and English that were adopted by 45 states and Washington, D.C. The standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It has the backing of the Obama administration’s Education Department and national teacher unions.

Critics including parent groups, private school organizations and lawmakers are concerned that Common Core amounts to a de facto national curriculum through incentives of $3.4 billion in Race to the Top grants from the Department of Education.

“Common Core is another example of Washington trying to control all aspects of Americans’ lives, including the education of our children,” Cruz said in a statement supporting the resolution. “We should not allow the federal government to dictate what our children learn; rather, parents, through their teachers, local schools and state systems, should be able to direct the education of their children.”

Among organizations concerned about the standards are the American Association of Christian Schools and Home School Legal Defense Association.

“HSLDA applauds Sen. Graham for this powerful resolution pushing back against the notion that Washington, D.C. should use taxpayer dollars to pressure states into adopting specific education policy,” said J. Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. “Parents, teachers and local school districts, not education bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., should be in charge of the critical decisions of what, when and how children learn. The success of homeschooling shows that greater freedom and less top-down control helps lead to academic success.”

The resolution states that education belongs in the hands of states, local governments and parents and that the federal government should not coerce states into adopting uniform standards. More to the point, the resolution states that future applications for federal grants or waivers should not be tied to the adoption of Common Core. It states that linking federal grants to common education will increase federal control over education.

“Educational decisions are best made by parents and teachers – not bureaucrats in Washington,” Scott said. “While Common Core started out as a state-led initiative, the federal government unfortunately decided to use carrots and sticks to coerce states into adopting national standards and assessments. That is simply the wrong choice for our kids.”

Lee added that that states could lose control of their guidelines.

“Common Core has become polluted with federal guidelines and mandates that interfere with the ability of parents, teachers and principals to deliver the education our children deserve,” Lee said. “Rather than increasing coercion, we should be demanding that further interference by the U.S. Department of Education with respect to state decisions on academic content standards be eliminated.”

Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter.