Favorite

The right's new Obamaploy: Common Core 

Sonny Perdue, the veterinarian who marched the Republican Party to power in Georgia, defined American politics in 2014 better than the political scientists. "It's the two P's," he said the other day, "polarization and paranoia."

Perdue was bemoaning what had happened to "the Common Core," the great school reform on which he and other Republican governors, notably Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee, had staked their political glory. Now Common Core is reviled by much of their party as Barack Obama's takeover of our children.

Denouncing "Obamacore" gets lusty cheers at Republican gatherings, although the president had virtually nothing to do with it. In 2010, the Republican-led National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers pushed the learning benchmarks, which Huckabee can claim (and did until a few weeks ago) were roughly modeled after his own Smart Core school benchmarks in Arkansas a decade ago. Forty-six states quickly adopted the Core. Business groups lauded it because it was supposed to raise the English and math proficiency of graduates and reverse America's declining competitiveness with Europe and Asia. Arkansas just phased in the last stage of the Common Core, in grades 9–12.

Right-wing groups were agin' it all along, as they were school reforms like George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind (2001) and other efforts over the years to establish nationwide benchmarks that children were to achieve by grade levels. All the school standards, just like Social Security, Medicare, occupational safety and clean-air and -water rules, smacked of socialism and federal control to some.

The critics found an opening when Obama's education commissioner said he would give extra points to states applying for competitive school pilot grants or waivers from No Child Left Behind if they had adopted some Common Core standards. See, the opponents said, Obama was behind it all along and it furthers his goal of turning the United States into a totalitarian state.

"Obamacore" comes at a good time because polls and the changing political races indicate that Obamacare — that is, the Affordable Care Act — is wearing a little thin as the wedge issue in the battleground races across the South and Midwest. People are tired of endless Obamacare ads and, besides, with more than 9 million Americans newly enrolled in private or government health plans, most of them for the first time, and tens of millions of Medicare enrollees seeing lower drug bills and free medical screenings as a result of Obamacare, fewer people every day faint at the mention of "Obamacare." Now they can get mad for a year or so about the coming Obamacore takeover of the neighborhood school.

Obamacare and Obamacore enjoy a similar genesis. The health reform — or at least its one hated feature, mandatory coverage by private health plans — began as a Republican reform, first in the 1970s as Richard Nixon's and Gerald Ford's solution to universal health insurance and then as congressional Republicans' answer in 1993, when Hillary Clinton tried to foist medical insurance on the needy.

Last month, Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, President George H. W. Bush's surgeon general, said he was still puzzled that Republicans had repudiated the big features of Obamacare, which he and the conservative Heritage Foundation had drafted in 1991-92 for President Bush to push through Congress if he were re-elected. It was all there: the exchanges, the mandate, the subsidies to help low-income families buy coverage — all but the pilot projects and the restrictions on insurance companies to protect families from losing their insurance. Republican leaders in both houses sponsored it.

Sullivan thinks Republicans should be given credit for the achievements of Obamacare, and not just Mitt Romney, who instituted it in Massachusetts. The Republican National Committee honored Dr. Sullivan as a Republican "trailblazer" two months ago, but he was kind enough not to bring it up.

Now, Republicans are abandoning their other baby, Obamacore, in droves, especially the presidential candidates. Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul condemn it. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, one of its earliest champions, says he was mistaken and wants Louisiana to undo what he had coerced his state to do.

Even Huckabee has bailed — well, on some days. He saw the tide turning in December and told his Fox News audience he no longer supported the learning standards. But when he met more privately with the Council of Chief State School Officers, he said the states should just change the name from Common Core to something else. It might then shed its association with Obama.

"Rebrand it," he said.

That's what several Republican governors are doing. Jeb Bush, who may be the leading Republican presidential candidate, stands almost alone as champion of the Core, although his successor in Florida has changed it to "Next Generation Sunshine State Standards." Claim that, Barack Obama!

In the House of Representatives, 42 of the party's extremists, including Arkansas's Tom Cotton, sponsored a resolution denouncing the federal government for "coercing" states into adopting Common Core goals for children. Rick Crawford, not so much an extremist most of the time, also signed it, but some of the most hysterical conspiracists in the world are in his home county.

Before long, you'll hear that Cotton's opponent, Sen. Mark Pryor, is a secret Obamacore commando. As Sonny Perdue said, "There's a great deal of paranoia in this country today."

Favorite

Speaking of Common Core

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Glass houses

    Having gotten a deep security briefing and probably a confidential glimpse of our own vast cyberspying operation, Donald Trump is no longer pretty sure that the Kremlin didn't hack Democratic computers or employ other tactics to help his election.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • ACA and the GOP

    Congress and the new president in a matter of weeks will repeal big parts of the Affordable Care Act, at least nominally, but what will follow that wondrous event will not be the contentment that Republicans have long promised, but even more political tumult.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Religion as excuse upends Constitution

    Tirades over religious liberty since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages nationwide have awakened the ghost of James Madison, the author of the constitutional doctrine on the matter, and it isn't happy that his effort to protect religious inquiry in America is being corrupted.
    • Jul 9, 2015
  • Guns, God and gays

    Many more mass shootings like the one last week in Roseburg, Ore., will stain the future and no law will pass that might reduce the carnage. That is not a prediction but a fact of life that is immune even to Hillary Clinton.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Glass houses

    Having gotten a deep security briefing and probably a confidential glimpse of our own vast cyberspying operation, Donald Trump is no longer pretty sure that the Kremlin didn't hack Democratic computers or employ other tactics to help his election.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • ACA and the GOP

    Congress and the new president in a matter of weeks will repeal big parts of the Affordable Care Act, at least nominally, but what will follow that wondrous event will not be the contentment that Republicans have long promised, but even more political tumult.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Good one, Al. Hell hath no fury, and all that happy horse-shit. I hope Gene…

    • on January 20, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Make that "old hack."

    • on January 20, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Oh dear - It is me, E.E.W - I'll confess - but not so much…

    • on January 20, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation