All politics is local. So Republican politicians with national ambitions better pay attention to what grassroots parents are saying and doing about the federal education racket known as Common Core. In bellwether Indiana this week, anti-Common Core activists won a pair of pivotal electoral victories against GOP Gov. Mike Pence.
Pence's attempt to mollify critics by rebranding and repackaging shoddy Common Core standards is fooling no one.
Tuesday's Republican primary elections in the Hoosier state resulted in the landslide defeat of two establishment incumbents running for statewide re-election. Pence had endorsed GOP State Rep. Kathy Heuer over challenger Christopher Judy. Pence's Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann had endorsed GOP State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki over challenger Curt Nisly. The incumbents enjoyed the support of the Common Core-promoting U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
These same Big Business elites backed Pence's ploy to stave off grassroots parental opposition by "withdrawing" from Common Core -- and then immediately adopting "new" standards that recycle the same old rotten ones. (See my April 30 column, "Big Government GOP's Common Core Rebrand Hustle.") As Hoosier mom Erin Tuttle put it, Pence's stunt "gave the appearance of voiding the Common Core, while the Indiana Department of Education and the Center for Education and Career Innovation walked it through the backdoor."
Challengers Judy and Nisly made their opponents' refusal to help end Common Core in the state a central issue. Hoosiers Against Common Core, led by moms Tuttle and Heather Crossin, endorsed the dark-horse challengers. With little money and scant press attention, they beat Pence's machine by astonishingly wide margins: Judy ousted Heuer 57-43; Nisly defeated Kubacki 65-35.
Well before the horrors of Common Core had penetrated cable TV and late-night comedy shows, Indiana parents led the lonely charge. They were at the vanguard of challenging the constitutionality, costs, substandard academic quality, privacy invasions and special interest lobbyists fueling Fed Ed. In 2012, Hoosiers Against Common Core spearheaded the stunning ouster of Tony Bennett -- the Indiana GOP's scandal-plagued former state education secretary who fled to Common Core-peddling former Gov. Jeb Bush's Florida for another educrat job. (See my August 2, 2013, column, "Rotten to the Core: Jeb Bush's Crony Republicans Against Higher Standards.")