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Wikileaks: Common Core a “Third Rail” for DNC

August 2, 2016

Andrew Mullins, Deputy Director
Federal Relations


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If you could sum up the 2016 election cycle in one word, “unpredictable” would be the one to go with. From the dramatic ascent of populist candidates in both major parties, to domestic unrest and international friction, unpredictability has defined this election cycle.


But before we say a eulogy for politics as usual and calculable elections, it seems that we are still occasionally visited by a ghost of predictability. Thanks to the recent data dump of hacked Democratic National Committee emails by WikiLeaks, a shining beacon of obviousness has finally entered the election scene.

In a series of leaked communications between DNC strategists, we catch a glimpse of a fact that we have always known: the Common Core State Standards are deeply unpopular, and local control of education is a winning issue for American voters.

One of the leaked emails from DNC deputy communications director Eric Walker chastised his colleagues for creating a video quoting statements by GOP Candidates against the Common Core. Walker described the Common Core as “a political third rail that we should not be touching at all.” Walker asks his staff to “get rid of” references to local control of education, because “Most people want local control of education.”

It should come as no surprise that the Common Core State Standards are such a toxic issue, given their popularity (on the “absolute disdain” end of the popularity spectrum) with teachers, parents, and students. People associate the Common Core with public humiliation of students, privacy violations, and data intrusion.

While the Department of Education’s ability to incentivize state adoption of the Common Core with waivers was dealt a blow by the Every Student Succeeds Act, the standards remain in place in many of the states that were original adopters. Consequently, state-by-state withdrawal from the Common Core State Standards remains an ongoing political issue, and is a key concern for parents and advocates.

Will this email leak actually make a difference for education policy in this election? In the grand scheme of things, probably not. While direct references to the Common Core may be noticeably absent from the Democratic platform, the party’s interest in a one-size-fits-all Federal approach to education remains. On page 32, the platform calls for the federal government to play an expanded role in education—which is exactly how we got the Common Core to begin with.

As this election season rolls on, it is important to remember that parents know what is best for the education of their children, whether they attend public school, private school, or are educated at home. The Common Core Standards may be a “third rail issue” right now, but unless we remain alert to the expansive reach of federal control in education, we may have bigger things to worry about than “third-rail” electrocution.

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Learn More

HSLDA’s Common Core microsite

Homeschooling Now blog: Candidates on Common Core

Homeschool Heartbeat: Common Core: Where’s It Going? An Interview with Will Estrada