Common Core: Is a battle brewing?

(UPDATED, 4:09 p.m., with Otter comments.)

The Idaho Statesman’s Bill Roberts did some interesting nose-counting on the Senate and House education committees — to see where the members stand on Idaho Core Standards.

The tallies were incomplete and inconclusive:

  • In the House Education Committee, eight members support the math and English language arts standards. Three members are opposed, three are undecided, and two couldn’t be reached.
  • In the Senate committee, four members support the standards, three are opposed, and one couldn’t be reached. (Also worth noting: Senate Education has an open spot; Democrats will have a chance to pick a successor to former Sen. Branden Durst.)

Ultimately, the roll call may be academic. Both committee chairs — Sen. John Goedde and Rep. Reed DeMordaunt — are in favor of the standards, reinforcing their support with a recent letter to colleagues. Committee chairs have a great deal of latitude in setting agendas, and advancing or scuttling legislation. It’s hard to envision an outright repeal of the standards gaining much traction in either committee.

Then, of course, there’s Gov. Butch Otter, who holds the power of the veto stamp. He supports staying the course on Idaho’s version of Common Core, as well as the 19 other recommendations from his education reform task force. On Thursday, during an education reform live chat at idahostatesman,com, Otter restated his support. “I think Common Core is often misunderstood and it is our repsonsibility to correct misunderstandings and continue to improve the implementation of more rigorous standards.”

But that’s not to say there won’t be some noise on Common Core this legislative session. That’s all but assured.

For example, it’s easy to envision some blowback in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee — which will write a 2014-15 public schools budget that would, presumably, contain money for the continued Common Core rollout. Or some fireworks on the House or Senate floor, when the K-12 budgets come up for a vote.

Another interesting sidelight in Roberts’ story: gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Russ Fulcher explains why he now opposes the Idaho Core Standards, when he supported them in the Senate committee in 2011. (Here’s a little bit more backstory on that issue.)

It will be interesting to see if other lawmakers renounce their support of Common Core — or go out of their way next session to take a stand on this issue.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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