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Anti-Common Core Petition to Trump: Pick Standards Foe as Ed. Secretary

By Alyson Klein — November 18, 2016 2 min read
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A group of conservative parents who don’t like the Common Core State Standards have a message for President-elect Donald Trump: Pick someone who has opposed the standards to serve as your education secretary.

Dozens of conservative parent activists and educators no have started an online petition to Trump and his education team. It was posted on the website of Parents Against Common Core. More on the group and its leaders here. The signatories include Christel Swasey, an activist and teacher whose viral blog post may helped derail passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The petition may have been inspired by some of the names in the rumor mill for education secretary, including folks who have either supported the common core, or not actively opposed it. But the petition itself doesn’t name any of the candidates it opposes.

The parents’ pick out of the lists they’ve seen? Williamson Evers, a former Bush administration education

official, who is serving on Trump’s education transition team. Evers, a veteran of California’s math wars, has been a vocal opponent of the standards. (Read his Education Week commentary on them here.)

And no matter who the next secretary is, these parents want him or her to make good on Trump’s campaign promise to get rid of the common core and scale back the U.S. Department of Education.

The problem: The newly enacted ESSA already bars the U.S. Department of Education from telling states what set of standards to use, or even from using federal grants or promises of flexibility to entice them to use a particular set of standards. In practice, that means the education secretary can’t tell a state to pick the common core. But he or she can’t tell states not to, either.

The letter also asks the Trump administration to update school privacy laws and get rid of any “invasive, ineffective” social-emotional learning programs, and preschool programs. It also asks the department to transfer oversight of special education to states and get rid of requirements for making the standards accessible to students in special education. (The letter doesn’t say this, but that requirement applies to all standards not just common core.)

Meanwhile, Democrats for Education Reform President Shavar Jeffries is urging Democrats not to take a post as Trump’s education secretary unless he disavows past statements disparaging minorities.

“Trump gives both tacit and express endorsement to a dangerous set of racial, ethnic, religious, and gender stereotypes that assault the basic dignity of children, causing incalculable harm not only to their sense of self but to also to their sense of belonging as accepted members of school communities and neighborhoods,” Jeffries wrote. Read the whole thing here.

Eva Moskowitz, the founder of a network of charter schools in New York, met with Trump this week to discuss serving in his administration, but took herself out of contention. Other Democrats said to be under consideration include Kevin Chavous, a former Washington D.C. city council member and school choice activist, and Michelle Rhee, the one-time chancellor of D.C. schools.

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