Defenders of Common Core won two big victories on Wednesday, as efforts to repeal and replace the standards were defeated in the heavily Republican legislatures of North Dakota and Mississippi.
The Mississippi State Senate approved a bill that would establish a task force to review the state’s education standards and make recommendations to the state school board. While supporters have argued the bill would allow Common Core to be replaced, the standards’ toughest opponents objected, pointing out that the board of education is under no obligation to listen to the new recommendation. They pushed an amendment that would make the recommendations binding, but it was shot down decisively, 37-13.
Meanwhile, in North Dakota, two Common Core-related bills were defeated. One, which would have pulled the state out of Common Core-aligned exams, narrowly failed 43-46, while a more expansive bill that would totally ban and replace Common Core was destroyed 89-0.
The two defeats are a disappointment for the grassroots activists trying to undo Common Core, who entered the year with high spirits following big Republican midterm victories and hoped to drive the standards from as many states as possible.
Michael Petrilli, president of the pro-Common Core Fordham Institute, said the failed measures showed the Core is more resilient than people think.
“For all the political pushback against the Common Core, states are sticking with these standards because they are high quality and teachers have been faithfully implementing them for years,” Petrilli told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The two wins for Common Core should also hearten Jeb Bush and other Republicans who have stood by the standards, showing they are not as toxic within the party as some have argued.
Opponents aren’t ready to quit, however. Jim Kasper, the North Dakota representative who sponsored the state’s repeal bill, told TheDCNF that the defeat was a matter of a minority of Republicans cratering to outside pressure.
“24 Republicans and 22 Democrats voted against 43 Republicans to kill the bill,” he said. He said that Republican defectors had been persuaded by “misinformation” pushed by state schools superintendent Kirsten Baesler.
“[They] said we could lose federal funds if we got out of Common Core. That is a lie.”
The state’s education establishment, Kasper said, had lobbied intensively for keeping Common Core for over a week. In contrast, “all we had… were the people of North Dakota,” he said.
Kasper insisted that the defeat would only be temporary. There is already movement afoot to have the measure concerning standardized tests reconsidered, he said, and even if the legislature fails, opponents will “without a doubt” try to eliminate Common Core via voter referendum.
“This is certainly not the end. It’s the beginning,” he said.
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