ALEC’s Common Core Vote Now Under Public Microscope

By Andrew Ujifusa — May 10, 2012 2 min read
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At this rate, the American Legislative Exchange Council will be “about as clandestine as the National Football League,” to use a Dave Barry phrase from a different context.

You may recall that both my colleague Catherine Gewertz and I have written about a resolution at ALEC opposing the Common Core State Standards. The common core, unlike other issues such as model legislation supporting charter schools and vouchers, has caused some dissent in the conservative policy shop. Without getting too deeply into the details, the group’s Education Task Force approved the anti-Common Core resolution, but the group’s board of directors did not. Now, ALEC is set to consider the resolution again at its meeting on Friday, May 11.

That reconsideration is being watched very closely. Stephanie Banchero of The Wall Street Journal wrote on May 8 that the group’s deliberations could deliver a big hit to common core. Then on May 10, with a headline that read “‘Common Core’ Education Fight to Test ALEC’s Conservative Chops,” two other conservative think tanks, the American Principles Project (based in Washington) and the Pioneer Institute (based in Boston), directly appealed to ALEC to approve the resolution opposing the standards, which 46 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to adopt.

Both think tanks have produced a “white paper” (jargon for a “report”) and a resolution that a state could use as a model to oppose the common core.

In a press release accompanying the report and resolution, Liv Finne, of the Washington Policy Center (yet another conservative think tank) stated directly that: “The ALEC board should approve the resolution. ... At stake is whether the government responds to the people or to other interests.” Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project said the report details how the common core was created by “private interests and trade associations” and strongly promoted by the U.S. Department of Education. Finally, the Pioneer Institute’s executive director, Jim Stergios, said three federal laws would be violated by the common core’s tests.

Not to be outdone, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, announced May 10 that he was “available to defend” the common core on May 11, the day of ALEC’s vote. Markell wrote a 2010 op-ed piece with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, praising the standards initiative. He believes that the standards will positively impact America’s place in the world.

We’ll keep you posted.


In an email this afternoon, ALEC informed me that despite media reports (including mine) the resolution on Common Core wouldn’t pass “at this meeting.” Subsequently, the American Principles Project, which I wrote about above, sent out a press release stating that the vote on the Common Core would be delayed. The release said that the resolution would be voted on at ALEC’s next meeting.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.