On Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz — who is exploring a run for president — tweeted that he would “repeal every word” of Common Core.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 15, 2015
We reported on the fundamental problem with this tweet: Common core is not a federal law and, therefore, cannot be repealed by the federal government.
Common Core is a federally created curriculum that the state’s ‘Race to the Top’ grants are tied to. So if the state does not adopt the standards, it gives up the grant money. But since the federal government created this mess, there should be a way to undo it.
Literally every claim in that statement is false.
First, Common Core is not “federally created.” It was created by the states, on a voluntary basis. As NPR reported, “the federal government played no role in creating the standards, nor did it require that states adopt them.”
Second, Common Core is not a “curriculum.” Federal law actually prohibits the federal government to “to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed to be used in an elementary school or secondary school.” Common Core is a set of math and English guidelines that outline a set of skills one should have at the end of each grade. The curriculum used to obtain those skills is left to school districts, schools and teachers.
Third, “Race To The Top” grants were never tied to the adoption of Common Core. Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan explained in a June 2013 speech:
Our big competitive reform fund, Race to the Top, awarded points — 40 points out of 500 — to states that were collaborating to create common college- and career-ready standards.
It was voluntary — we didn’t mandate it — but we absolutely encouraged this state-led work because it is good for kids and good for the country. And at the time, no one knew how many groups of states would come together to create their own set of common standards. It turned out to be one big group of 46 — but it could have been several, or even many, groups of states uniting around different sets of standards. So this notion of our pushing for one set of standards was never correct. In fact, we were totally agnostic on the number of state consortia. We just didn’t want 50 states to continue to work in complete isolation from each other.
In other words, states were not required or even incentivized to create a unified “Common Core” — they chose to do so.
It’s also worth noting that the Race To The Top funding has already been distributed. So whatever modest incentives existed to adopt standards — whether they were Common Core standards or otherwise — is largely dissipated. Only 20 states received any funding and, at this point, most of that money has been spent.