Ahlquist criticizes rollout of Common Core standards

(UPDATED, 4:36 p.m., with more detail from Ahlquist’s Associated Press interview.)

Tommy Ahlquist isn’t pushing to repeal the Idaho Core Standards — but the Republican gubernatorial candidate says he has a problem with the rollout of the standards.

“He kind of shares the frustration of many parents,” Todd Cranney of the Ahlquist campaign told Idaho Education News Tuesday.

In June, the Associated Press’ Kimberlee Kruesi reported that Ahlquist wanted to repeal the standards — adopted by the 2011 Legislature and launched in Idaho classrooms in 2013. Later in June, in an interview on the Point of Personal Privilege Podcast, Ahlquist said the implementation of the standards was “horrific,” and discussed his frustrations, as the father of two daughters, ages 12 and 14. In that interview with Seth Ogilvie and Melissa Davlin of Idaho Public Television, Ahlquist stopped short of calling for a repeal.

The AP story appears on Ahlquist’s campaign website, but on Tuesday, Cranney said the AP took Ahlquist’s comments out of context. Cranney said Ahlquist has consistently criticized the rollout of the standards.

“He believes in excellent standards,” Cranney said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Kruesi sent out the following quote on Twitter from her Ahlquist interview, and provided the full quote to Idaho Education News: “Common Core needs to go away completely. I think it’s failed. It’s failed my family. It was not the right answer for Idaho.”

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Since their inception, the Idaho Core Standards have been enmeshed in controversy.

Some legislators and citizens have pushed for a repeal of the Idaho Core Standards, the state’s version of Common Core standards in math and English language arts. Those repeal efforts have gone nowhere in the Legislature.

Even some educators who support Common Core have questioned the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium online exam that is aligned to the standards, saying the test is too time-consuming and provides little useful data. Ahlquist has no position on the test, Cranney said.

Ahlquist’s campaign page includes what he calls a “blueprint for an even better Idaho,” a list of positions on several topics. Ahlquist’s education plank does not refer to Common Core, or academic standards.

“Too many of our high school seniors are not college and career ready upon graduation,” the plank reads, in part. “We need to close the gap between what Idaho businesses need in their employees and what our schools are teaching.”

Ahlquist is one of three major Republican candidates seeking to succeed retiring Gov. Butch Otter. U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and Lt. Gov. Brad Little are also seeking the GOP nomination.