Common Core Supporters Got Slaughtered in Midterms


Andrew Cuomo
Cuomo / Youtube

It seems like there's nothing but bad news for the Common Core these days, and the midterm elections were no exception. Candidates who oppose the national education standards won big on Tuesday, from high-profile gubernatorial contests to local school district fights.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), both opponents of education standards, survived tough races. Their opponents, Democrats Mary Burke and Charlie Crist, were big supporters of Common Core who attempted to use the issue in the campaign.  Burke told the Journal Sentinel in September:

"We absolutely need higher standards in Wisconsin — we are currently 38th in the country in terms of proficiency standards — and implementing Common Core correctly will do just that."

Voters disagreed—not just in Wisconsin and Florida, but everywhere. Several local races—most notably in Arizona and South Carolina—revolved around candidates who promised to either reject or embrace Common Core. As The Daily Signal noted, the anti-Core folks won each time:

Voters resoundingly sided with candidates who both rejected Common Core national standards and tests and promised to restore state and local control of education. …

Richard Woods, who will become Georgia's new state superintendent, also campaigned on an anti-Common Core platform and has pledged to work to create Georgia-based curriculum standards.

And in South Carolina, which withdrew from Common Core earlier this year and already has planned to write its own standards, Molly Spearman, an anti-Common Core candidate, won her bid for state superintendent.

The potential for Arizona and Georgia to reject Common Core and forge a new path forward is particularly notable.

Education administrators and executives in the various states are increasingly against Common Core. Nationally, things are just as bad for the standards. The Senate is brimming with potential Republican presidential contenders who all oppose Common Core, including Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. Some of them have signed on to a bill that would instruct the federal government to stop pushing states to stick with the standards. And Sen. Lamar Alexander, who will head the Senate Education Committee now that Republicans have the majority, supports that effort.

Candidates who support Common Core were forced to downplay their position or even walk it back entirely. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did manage to defeat his Core-trashing opponent, but only after the governor released an ad promising to delay counting Core-aligned testing until New Yorkers were ready for it, or indefinitely.

It's a stunning reversal of fortune for Common Core, which was enacted in 45 of the 50 states years ago, before people knew much about it. The more they learn, the less they like it—and politicians have taken notice. That should be welcome news for libertarians, and for anyone who believes national standardization is precisely the wrong way to improve America's schools. Whether states will abandon Common Core en masse any time soon remains to be seen, but a few more elections like this one could certainly tip the scales.

More from Reason on Common Core here.