Common Core critics to converge on Statehouse

Critics of the Idaho Core Standards will take to the Statehouse next week, urging legislators to ditch the four-year-old standards.

Speakers at the Buck the Core rally will include Republican gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher, who opposed the standards during his 2014 run for governor; and Madison School District Superintendent Geoffrey Thomas, who opposed Common Core as a member of Gov. Butch Otter’s education task force in 2013.

Idaho’s version of the Common Core standards in English language arts and math has been in place since 2013. There hasn’t been a concerted push in the Legislature to repeal the standards, which have long enjoyed support from Otter and other political leaders, as well as education and business groups.

However, several legislators support a repeal of the standards, including Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, who lost her committee assignments in an ongoing standoff with House leadership. The list of Common Core opponents includes several House Republicans who have backed Scott in her battle with leadership: Reps. Ron Nate of Rexburg; Dorothy Moon of Stanley; and Christy Zito of Hammett.

Two citizens’ groups are organizing next week’s rally: Idahoans for Local Education and Idaho Education Watch.

In a news release Monday, organizers said they hope to “focus Idahoans on the failures of Common Core education reforms which came to Idaho in the form of Props 1, 2, and 3 (the Luna Laws).”

“It’s time for Idahoans to send the message to their elected officials that federal and state micromanagement of education is not working,” event organizer Mila Wood said in a news release. “Interference by non-profit foundations is not working. It’s time to return to common sense and local control and to let teachers do their jobs.”

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However, there is no direct link between the academic standards and Propositions 1, 2 and 3.

Lawmakers adopted the Idaho Core Standards in 2011, in the form of administrative agency rule. (Fulcher supported the rule as a member of the Senate Education Committee.)

During the same session — in a series of separate floor votes — lawmakers approved former state superintendent Tom Luna’s three education overhaul laws. In November 2012, Idaho voters overwhelmingly rejected Luna’s proposals, which appeared on the ballot as Propositions 1, 2 and 3.

Idaho Education News asked Wood to clarify her comments on Common Core and Propositions 1, 2 and 3. She did not respond to telephone or email requests for an interview.