Rep. Louis Gohmert’s bid to unseat John Boehner as speaker of the House is a longshot, but if the Texas Republican’s campaign is a success, it could be a critical blow to the Common Core multistate education standards.
Common Core was created by a consortium of several cooperating state governments without federal oversight and adoption has been at the state level. So while Common Core has caused fighting at the state level, Congress itself has mostly stayed above the fray, with no congressional action necessary to advance the standards.
Since Congress has no direct involvement, and since the issue has sharply divided state-level party members, many national Republicans have preferred to simply ignore the issue and its potential pratfalls. One of those Republicans is Boehner, who has avoided making any statements for or against Common Core.
Gohmert, on the other hand, has embraced the Republican insurgency against the standards. Last February, he was a co-sponsor of H.R. 476, a resolution that “strongly denounc[ed] the president’s coercion of states into adopting the Common Core state standards.”
The resolution advanced the narrative favored by some Republicans that, while President Barack Obama was not directly involved with Common Core’s creation, he has foisted the standards on states by giving favorable treatment to those adopting the standards in the provision of federal grants and waivers on No Child Left Behind.
The resolution died in committee without going anywhere, but if Gohmert were abruptly elevated to the speakership, opposition to the Common Core in Congress could be given new life. That could mean not just the passage of toothless resolutions, but real legislative efforts to undermine the Core. A Gohmert-led Congress could potentially shepherd through legislation that prohibits letting Common Core influence the provision of any federal funds or waivers, thereby eliminating the carrots and sticks Obama uses to influence state policy.
Some grassroots activists have already begun touting Gohmert’s candidacy, encouraging foes of Common Core to call their representatives and encourage them to switch their speaker votes.
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