Republicans in the Senate Thursday approved an amendment to the party’s 2015 budget proposal that would prohibit the federal government from doing anything to mandate or incentivize the adoption of Common Core by the states.
Sen. David Vitter’s amendment, dubbed the Local Control of Education Act, would prohibit the federal government from “mandating, incentivizing, or coercing” states into adopting or keeping Common Core standards in math and English. The amendment would abolish various methods that the Obama administration has used to encourage states to adopt Common Core and then remain on the standards rather than replacing them.
“Parents, along with local teachers, principals, and education leaders in our communities, know best on how to best educate our kids,” Vitter said in a statement. “We should reduce the size and scope of the federal government in our classrooms and return curriculum decision-making and use of taxpayer dollars to those closest to the students – and my legislation would do just that.”
During Obama’s first term, the Department of Education encouraged the adoption of Common Core through Race to the Top, a program that offered stimulus funds to states that adopted various education reforms. States could improve their chances of receiving funds by shifting to Common Core.
More recently, the administration has encouraged states to keep Common Core by offering waivers from various requirements of No Child Left Behind. States are more likely to have waivers if they use Common Core, and Oklahoma briefly lost its waiver after repealing the standards.
Vitter’s amendment wouldn’t ban these waivers, but it would explicitly ensure that states can leave Common Core without endangering their waivers.
The amendment was approved on a 54-46 party-line vote. It still faces a long road before becoming law, as Republicans and Democrats continue to spar over the budget.
Democrats argued the amendment was unnecessary.
“Common Core was not mandated by the federal government,” said Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. “Federal law already prohibits the federal government from requiring states to adopt certain standards or curriculum.”
Vitter, who is running for governor of Louisiana, was once a supporter of Common Core, but has changed his tune within the past year.
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