Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa is asking his Senate colleagues to co-sign a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee asking it not to allocate funds to any program that would allow the Obama Administration to encourage adoption of the Common Core State Standards. In an email sent from his office, Grassley listed a number of such policies adopted by the administration and expressed hopes that the committee will put a stop to them in the future.
We ask that the Fiscal Year 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill include language to restore state decision-making and accountability with respect to state academic content standards. The decision about what students should be taught and when it should be taught has enormous consequences for our children. Therefore, parents ought to have a straight line of accountability to those who are making such decisions. State legislatures, which are directly accountable to the citizens of their states, are the appropriate place for those decisions to be made, free from any pressure from the U.S. Department of Education.
The letter specifically mentions measures such as requiring the adoption of Common Core as a prerequisite for Race to the Top funding and allocating funding for research consortia that would study and develop tests that would align with Common Core Standards.
In addition, Grassley wants committee members to assure states that their No Child Left Behind waivers granted by the Department of Education won't be jeopardized if they choose not to adopt CCS.
While the Common Core State Standards Initiative was initially billed as a voluntary effort between states, federal incentives have clouded the picture. Current federal law makes clear that the U.S. Department of Education may not be involved in setting specific content standards or determining the content of state assessments. Nevertheless, the selection criteria designed by the U.S. Department of Education for the Race to the Top Program provided that for a state to have any chance to compete for funding, it must commit to adopting a "common set of K-12 standards" matching the description of the Common Core. The U.S. Department of Education also made adoption of "college- and career-ready standards" meeting the description of the Common Core a condition to receive a state waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Race to the Top funds were also used to fund two consortiums to develop assessments aligned to the Common Core and the Department is now in the process of evaluating these assessments.
Grassley lists April 25th as the deadline for co-signers in order to give committee members enough time to consider the request.