Education

Tea Party's Concerns About Common Core Causing Some to Reconsider

Three months after Republican Paul LePage became Maine’s governor in 2011, he signed a law adopting the Common Core standards to better prepare students for college or careers.
September 6, 2013

Three months after Republican Paul LePage became Maine’s governor in 2011, he signed a law adopting the Common Core standards to better prepare students for college or careers.

Since then, the program to which he gave his imprimatur has become the focus of Tea Party anger. While LePage isn’t stopping implementation of the standards, he now disavows them.

“I don’t believe in Common Core,” LePage said in a statehouse interview last week. “I believe in raising the standards in education.”

LePage’s contortions reflect the politicization of Common Core benchmarks, developed to regularize and improve education across the nation. After 46 states adopted and are implementing the standards in math and language arts, some are balking amid concerns that the federal government may be taking over.

Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin this year halted or delayed implementation, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Republicans control the governor’s office and the legislature in all of those places. Twenty-six bills across 11 states related to Common Core are pending, the NCSL said.

In Maine, Common Core opponents say they will collect the 57,277 signatures needed to put a referendum on the November 2014 ballot. Debate about benchmarks and testing “will continue to be a big conversation” throughout the nation, said Michelle Exstrom, education program director at the NCSL.

Common Core’s standards for kindergarten through high school were finalized in June 2010 by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, according to corestandards.org. Only Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia didn’t approve them, the NCSL said.

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