Tea Party mobilizing over education standards overhaul

May 31, 2013 at 9:38 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 31 (UPI) -- Tea Party groups say they're urging Republican governors to rethink supporting a bipartisan plan backed by President Obama to overhaul U.S. public schools.

Members of the movement, which flexed its muscle in the 2010 midterm elections but lost momentum in the 2012 general election, said they think they can win the Common Core battle and possibly turn it into a watershed event, The Washington Post reported Friday.

"This is the issue that could change things for the Tea Party movement," said Lee Ann Burkholder, founder of the 9/12 Patriots in York, Pa., which rallied 400 people to a recent meeting to discuss working against Common Core.

The White House has promoted Common Core, written by governors and state education officials in both parties and largely funded by the private Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to create consistent math and reading standards from kindergarten through 12th grade nationwide. The standards don't dictate curriculum; states would determine the curriculum and how to prep students for standardized tests based on Common Core.

The standards have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia and are to be implemented by 2014.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican facing re-election next year, told the Post, "We didn't see it coming with the intensity that it is, apparently all across the country."

Supporters have expressed concern that a drop in state participation could weaken potential benefits, such as the ability to compare student test scores across states, while creating logistical hurdles for school districts developing curriculum and training teachers, the Post said.

Tea Party groups, as well as some liberals, counter that the standards are tantamount to a federal takeover of education. Critics also said Common Core was pushed onto schools with little public debate.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan voiced frustration with opposition over Common Core last week while on Capitol Hill, the Post said. He rejected comments by U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., that many of his constituents groused that federal money was used to "bribe" states to accept a "federal takeover of curriculum."

"It's not a black helicopter ploy and we're not trying to get inside people's minds and brains," Duncan said.

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