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Fact Check: Trump Administration Didn’t ‘Get Rid’ of Common Core

By Evie Blad — February 27, 2020 2 min read
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Did President Trump eliminate the Common Core State Standards? No.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, speaking before a receptive audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, praised Trump for his promise to “get rid of” the common core, “which was a massive overreach on the part of the federal government.”

“We’ve done that,” she said, implying that the Trump administration had followed through on that promise.

But that’s not true.

Three things you should know:

  1. Many states still use the Common Core State Standards. And, following political pushback to the standards, some states that previously used the common core have replaced it with adjusted standards that are quite similar.
  2. The Obama administration didn’t mandate that states use the standards, developed by governors and state chiefs. But it did require states adopt “college and career-ready standards,” as a condition of applying for competitive Race to the Top grants and waivers from the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. More than 40 states and the District of Columbia chose the common core to meet that requirement
  3. Neither the president nor any federal official can force a state to abandon the common core standards or to adopt them. The Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law that replaced NCLB before Trump took office, prohibits federal officials from linking the adoption of a particular set of standards to money or flexibility.

After years of high-profile debates over the common core, some Republican governors are still seeking political points for their opposition to the standards.

Most recently, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced new standards, called the Florida Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (or B.E.S.T.), that he said would “remove all vestiges” of the common core from the state’s classrooms. It remains unclear how much those new standards differ from the common core, but some education groups have said they are working to compare them.

Florida’s State Board of Education has also approved a rule that requires publishers to submit, with their textbook bids, a “No Common Core & Common Core Standards” assurance. Such a pledge may be difficult to enforce as it’s possible textbook content may align with multiple sets of standards at once, including the common core and Florida’s new benchmarks.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, also urged lawmakers to tackle standards in his January State of the State address. “Let’s dismantle the remnants of common core,” he said.

Photo: White House counselor Kellyanne Conway looks to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as she speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2020, in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday. -- AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

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