Two More Governors Turning Against Common Core


Two more state governors have hopped on the anti-Common Core bandwagon, urging either a second look at it or pushing for outright repeal.

Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah ordered his attorney general to conduct a review of the controversial multi-state education standards Thursday, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced that he wants the state’s legislature to repeal the standards when it reconvenes next January.

“Today, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass a bill in early January to repeal Common Core and replace it with standards set by people in Wisconsin,” Walker said in a statement reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Thursday. His open opposition is a step up from the past. In January he said that the standards warranted reexamination, but otherwise Walker has said little about Common Core at all.

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A bill was introduced this past year seeking to pull Wisconsin out of Common Core, but failed after gaining almost no traction in the legislature. If Walker is successfully reelected in November, his newly expressed support could provide a repeal push with much greater momentum.

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Walker’s announcement, however, also highlighted continuing internal divisions within the Republican Party on education policy. State Superintendent Tony Evers complained that Walker’s statements made the state’s education system appear unstable and chaotic, while state representative Steve Kestell said Walker’s statements were purely political posturing in an election year.

“The idea that they’d just be able to replace the standards at the beginning of the legislative session is absurd,” Kestell told the Journal-Sentinel.

Herbert’s announcement was less dramatic than Walker’s, with the focus being on giving Common Core a second look rather than immediately seeking its repeal. He said Attorney General Sean Reyes would review the standards to make sure they did not inordinately surrender Utah’s control over it’s own education system.

Herbert also announced that a new website will allow Utah citizens to leave complaints about Common Core for the governor’s office, and also said he is creating a special committee of policy experts who will review the standards’ appropriateness from a higher education perspective. That review, he said, could result in any number of possible recommendations.

“I don’t want to presuppose the outcome of this review, but I want to emphasize that Dr. Kendell and his team of experts may in fact recommend some standards be removed, some standards might be made more rigorous and some standards might not be changed at all,” Herbert said during a speech Thursday.

Momentum has recently been building against Common Core, particularly on the right. South Carolina, Indiana and Oklahoma have dropped the standards completely this year, while Missouri and North Carolina have passed bills that keep the standards in place for now, but establish commissions with the power to change them.

Herbert said that he was partly motivated by a hope that a detailed review could reduce ongoing feuding between Common Core supporters, who describe the standards as merely broad goals that leave substantial control with local school districts, and opponents who describe the standards as a federal takeover of education.

“Whatever has been done in the past has not resolved the dispute,” Herbert said. “There’s too much animus out there with the groups on all sides of the issue and it’s just time for us to kind of push the pause button and say, ‘Let’s reevaluate, let’s ascertain that we have Utah standards.'”

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