Head Count: Executive Orders and State Republican Parties on Common Core

By Andrew Ujifusa — December 18, 2013 2 min read
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Pronouncements on the Common Core State Standards from state political figures are a hot Christmas item, apparently. Right after Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant issued an executive order on Dec. 16 affirming the state’s power over curriculum under the common core, the South Carolina Republican Party took a less sympathetic view of the standards. Its executive committee approved a resolution officially opposing the standards because of stated fears about cost and a lack of oversight in how the standards were adopted.

The executive orders, ostensibly meant to calm fears about federal intrusion into schools and other aspects of the standards, don’t mean that the governors are ordering the standards to be dropped. And former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a consistent supporter of the standards, has said the types of executive orders that rename the standards, for example, are the right idea (although it’s not certain how he squares that view with his concurrent, stated opinion that the standards are “dead”).

But it’s far from clear that they’ll action satisfy opponents’ concerns about the standards. After all, either a state has adopted them, or it hasn’t, and an executive order doesn’t change that.

Here is an unofficial State EdWatch tally of each type of action that I’ve been able to confirm. I’ve linked to either reports from news sources or the actual executive orders or resolutions.

Executive Orders from Republican Governors Affirming States’ Rights Under Common Core (6)

Arizona (Gov. Jan Brewer); Georgia (Gov. Nathan Deal); Iowa (Gov. Terry Branstad); Oklahoma (Gov. Mary Fallin); Maine (Gov. Paul LePage); Mississippi (Gov. Phil Bryant).

Resolutions Passed by State Republican Parties Opposing Common Core (7)

Alabama; California; Georgia; Iowa; Kansas; South Carolina; Utah.

Those lists, of course, leave off the Republican National Committee’s opposition to the standards. I’ve also seen the California GOP portrayed as critical of the standards, but haven’t found the resolution or a news source confirming its official opposition. UPDATE: Bill Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a member of the California GOP’s executive committee, sent me the resolution opposing Common Core that the state party approved Oct. 6, so I’ve added that to the tally and linked to his resolution.

Will those numbers grow, or will they remain relatively small in comparison to the number of states who have actually adopted and continue to stick with the standards? (Those last two categories are one and the same, since no state that’s adopted the standards has dropped them.) Please let me know if comments if I have missed any executive orders, or resolutions from state parties of either stripe opposing common core.

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