Ten Republican senators don’t want to see another dime of federal money going to states in exchange for adopting certain academic standards. That includes the Common Core State Standards, now embraced by 45 states and the District of Columbia. The senators also don’t want any more federal funding going to develop assessments that go along with the common core, or any other set of standards.
And they’ve said so, in a letter sent April 4 to U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the panel that oversees K-12 spending, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., the top Republican on the subcommittee. The letter suggests adding language to the bill financing the U.S. Department of Education that essentially would bar the education secretary from using any federal funds to bolster a particular set of standards or tests.
The letter was signed by Sens. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, and John Barrasso of Wyoming.
Some background: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave states that jumped on board the common-core train a leg up in the first round of the Race to the Top grant competition, and directed $360 million in Race to the Top money to two consortia to develop tests aligned with those standards. Those moves attracted a little grumbling from GOP lawmakers at the time, but have become way more controversial as states actually begin to implement the common core.