COMMENTARY | Wyoming has publicly rejected the Common Core standards for science in a row over climate change language and references. And this threatens to be only the tip of the iceberg in what could emerge as the domestic political issue of 2014.
Ever since the book “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” made a big splash a couple of decades ago, elected officials have been tinkering with the education system. And as the debate over the Common Core education standards emerges, there’s often a heavy partisan tone when politicians get involved in the process.
It wasn’t supposed to be a partisan affair. The governors got together to help write the standards for science, social studies, and a host of other subjects. That included red and blue state chief executives, and their education personnel. But you wouldn’t know that from the rhetoric.
Wyoming’s rejection of the Common Core science standards wasn’t even over the old evolution theory vs. creationism debate, although that might be an issue for some Southern states. It’s a rejection of any reference to climate change, something the natural gas giant just couldn’t tolerate. After all, the only other options for the Western state with the bleak weather is cattle ranching.
Common Core is also an issue in another red state: Georgia. But it’s not necessarily a Republican vs. Democratic Party debate as it might be for other states. It’s a divide between centralization and decentralization, or states and the national government vs. local communities, to listen to the argument. And it’s even splitting the GOP into two camps: advocates and critics.
Mike Buck, a leading Republican candidate for the open State School Superintendent position (his boss, John Barge, is challenging GOP Governor Nathan Deal in the gubernatorial primary), is a proponent of the Common Core Standards in Georgia.
“I strongly support the standards we currently are implementing in Georgia,” Buck said in an email communique. “More importantly, over 70% of the Georgia teachers surveyed either support or strongly support our current standards. The standards are not perfect, but they are very strong. That being said, I am committed to conducting appropriate precision reviews of the standards and making any necessary adjustments.”
David Pennington, the mayor of a smaller town (Dalton, Georgia) and GOP gubernatorial candidate (battling Barge and Governor Deal) told education students at LaGrange College that he’s not opposed to education standards, but he cares more about who writes them. “We were a better country when local communities got involved in education,” he said to the West Georgia audience. “But those decisions are being taken out of our hands by the Department of Education and the Georgia education bureaucracy.”