As more and more cracks begin to show in the Common Core initiative, Americans are pushing back, insisting that parents—not bureaucrats in Washington—should “be in charge” of their children’s education. This assertion, delivered by the Friedman Foundation’s Robert Enlow at the 41st annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), was met with rousing applause, signaling attendees’ determination to keep the federal government from intruding further into another facet of American life.
Enlow, along with veteran conservative author-activist Phyllis Schlafly and the Pioneer Institute’s Jim Stergios, spoke Thursday on a CPAC panel that addressed Common Core and the broader need for school choice in America. Moderated by The Heritage Foundation’s Will Skillman Fellow in Education, Lindsey Burke, the panel proved to be one of the day’s most exciting events.
Schlafly spoke first, detailing the public school policies that have been failing students since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. There is a common thread, Schlafly noted, that connects the reforms pushed by Johnson in the 1960s, later national standards iterations, and, now, Common Core: an emphasis on government control rather than student-centered learning.
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Noting that school choice is one area where conservatives are gaining ground, Enlow provided the audience with statistics that demonstrated the impact advocates are making. In 1996, he said, five school choice programs operated in five states. Today, 48 school choice programs operate in 26 states and the District of Columbia.
The final panelist, Jim Stergios, argued that, ultimately, the Common Core initiative is about “compliance,” not education. Stergios concluded the event by stressing that Common Core is something the conservative movement “need[s] to fight.” Judging by the response from the standing-room-only crowd, the pushback against Common Core has only just begun.
CPAC, which attracts thousands of activists and politicians from across the nation, runs through Saturday at the Gaylord convention center complex along the Potomac River just outside Washington, D.C., in suburban Maryland.
This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.