Scott Walker wants Common Core repealed


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants the state legislature to repeal Common Core legislation (Andy Manis/AP)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Thursday called on the state legislature to repeal Common Core education standards, becoming the latest Republican governor to oppose a program that has become a lightning rod for conservative activists.

In a one-sentence statement Thursday, Walker said he wanted the legislature to pass a bill when it returns to Madison in January.

Wisconsin adopted Common Core standards in 2010, under Walker’s predecessor, Jim Doyle (D). Republicans in the legislature have tried to roll back those standards since taking control that year. A measure to halt implementation of the standards, drafted with the help of Walker’s administration, died after the state superintendent of education campaigned against it.

Walker’s statement came after one local school board, in Cedarburg, voted to ask lawmakers to delay Common Core testing. Two Walker allies, state Sens. Leah Vukmir (R) and Paul Farrow (R), issued a joint statement Thursday urging a delay in implementation of the new standards, which are scheduled to go into effect in the upcoming school year.

State Rep. Steve Kestell (R), who heads the Assembly’s education committee, told the Wisconsin State Journal he thought a delay would pass.

The roots of Common Core standards grew out of Achieve, a nonprofit reform group founded in the mid-1990s aimed at crafting education standards that would lead to a workforce with the qualifications necessary for business. The initial state standards were a product of two governors — Georgia Republican Sonny Perdue and Delaware Democrat Jack Markell — working together at the National Governors Association in the late 2000s.

Wisconsin was one of 46 states that initially adopted the new standards. But conservative opposition began to mount almost immediately, both at a grass-roots level and among outside organizations based in Washington.

Republicans chafed at the new standards, which some activists see as a federal overreach, despite the program’s genesis among the governor’s association. “It’s now being pushed as if it’s a D.C. issue,” South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) told The Washington Post in an interview last year.

Three states, Indiana, Oklahoma and Haley’s South Carolina, have already officially dropped out of Common Core. This week, the North Carolina state House passed a measure to create a commission to establish new standards separate from Common Core; Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who once voiced support for Common Core, said he will sign the bill.

Other states run by Republicans are following suit. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is negotiating with his state board of education to replace Common Core with different, state-specific standards. Republican governors of Mississippi and Georgia have issued orders to review the standards, while legislators in at least four other states are considering legislation to review or repeal it.

Walker faces a difficult reelection race this year against Mary Burke (D), a former official in Doyle’s administration and a Madison School Board member. In a statement, Burke’s campaign criticized Walker’s statement as transparently political in nature.

“He offers zero explanation for why he wants to undermine efforts to improve our educational standards from 38th in the country and zero plan for moving forward,” Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki told the Journal.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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