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Every Student Succeeds Act

Common Core Keeps Getting Bashed on the Campaign Trail

By Andrew Ujifusa — January 04, 2016 1 min read
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If you thought the recent lull in K-12 talk on the presidential campaign trail meant candidates had forgotten how to throw shade when it comes to the Common Core State Standards, think again.

In a speech last Tuesday in Waterloo, Iowa, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., excoriated the federal government under President Barack Obama for, among other things, “trying to take over our schools with common core.”

“I will repeal every single one of his illegal, unconstitutional executive orders that he has put in place, and I’ll do it on my first day in office ... that means we are stopping any and all work on imposing common core on this country,” Rubio told the crowd. See the video of his Waterloo remarks on common core below, at the 3:25 and 7:40 marks:

Rubio got into a debate about the standards with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a common-core backer, during a GOP presidential debate last year.

Common core isn’t the subject of any presidential executive order, and the Obama administration hasn’t required states to adopt it. (To the extent that standards were an issue in states’ waivers from No Child Left Behind, which the U.S. Department of Education used along with Race to the Top to encourage states’ adoption of the common core, they have been the subject of executive action.)

But here’s the key point: the new Every Student Succeeds Act prohibits the federal government from incentivizing, coercing, or otherwise pushing and nudging states into adopting any set of standards, including the common core.

To be fair, many common-core opponents on both the left and right might not think that’s much help at all. After all, ESSA doesn’t ban the common core or discourage states from using it. But ESSA ostensibly gives Rubio what he wants concerning common core. Here, it’s worth noting that when Rubio had a chance to vote up or down on ESSA, he skipped last month’s vote. Fellow presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., also declined to vote on ESSA.

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