Having tried unsuccessfully last year to persuade his colleagues in Congress to defund the Common Core program, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) is at it again.
Grassley is circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter asking legislators to sign on to a separate missive that will be sent early next month to Senate education budget appropriators, asking that they no more federal money be put into the 2015 budget that helps develop or promote the Core, a set of math and English language standards adopted by most of the states that has become increasingly controversial over the past year. Grassley is likely to meet resistance from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a Core supporter who is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on education.
In the “Dear Colleague” letter, published by the Caffeinated Thoughts blog, Grassley says in part:
While the Common Core State Standards Initiative was initially billed as a voluntary effort between states, federal incentives have clouded the picture. The selection criteria designed by the U.S. Department of Education for the Race to the Top (RTTT) Program provided that for a state to have a reasonable chance to compete for funding, it must adopt a “common set of K-12 standards” matching the description of the Common Core…while many state boards of education had the authority to simply adopt the new standards without extensive public input, some states had to waive their normal process for adopting content standards. This illustrates the heavy-handed nature of the federal incentive. For example Mississippi adopted the Common Core Standards as a temporary rule effective immediately, bypassing the requirements of the state’s Administrative Procedures Act using a “finding of imminent peril to public welfare in the loss of substantial funds from the Race to the Top Grant.” … This heavy-handed push to get states to adopt the Common Core State Standards in such a short timeframe preempted an important public debate about the standards, which is now happening after the fact at the state level throughout the country.
The development of the Common Core initiative was funded in large part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The federal government invested about $360 million in two multi-state consortia to develop new standardized tests aligned with the Core standards, which are expected to be ready for use in schools next year.
Here’s the “Dear Colleague” letter, and after that, the letter Grassley intends to send to Harkin et al. early next month:
And here’s the second letter: