Indiana Common Core rebrand costing incumbents their seats

May 7, 2014 8 Comments

Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s Administration was on the losing side of two landslides through legislative endorsements in Tuesday’s Republican primary elections in northeastern Indiana.  These contests featured matchups between defenders of the Pence Administration’s re-branding of Common Core, and education reformers. In 2012, Hoosier republicans used the ballot box to voice their concern over the Common Core by ousting Tony Bennett, and this election proves they will continue to do so.

Lack of Gubernatorial Clout in Tuesday’s GOP Primaries

Gov. Pence endorsed State Rep. Kathy Heuer over Christopher Judy in HD83 (parts of Whitley and Allen Counties).  Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann endorsed State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki over Curt Nisly in HD22 (parts of Kosciusko and Elkhart Counties).  Hoosiers Against Common Core endorsed Judy and Nisly.

In addition to the endorsements, Lt. Gov. Ellspermann spent Election Day greeting voters at the polls in HD83 and HD22 on behalf of Reps. Heuer and Kubacki.  Despite all this help from the Governor’s offices, Christopher Judy beat Kathy Heuer 57%-43%, and Curt Nisly beat Rebecca Kubacki 65%-35%.

Common Core Emerges as Campaign Theme

Both challengers reported Common Core was an issue of concern with voters as they went door-to-door in their districts. When voters challenged Kubacki and Heure on their position regarding the Common Core, they acknowledged their votes against the Common Core pause bill in 2013, but claimed vindicated on the issue by voting yes on SB91, which mandated new standards to replace the Common Core.

However, this wasn’t enough to console voters who viewed SB91 as a ruse to fool Common Core opponents. The legislation 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.

When questioned in an article on Politico about the new standards, Heuer claimed that the issue was a “conundrum,” she explained that she was against the Common Core, but supported the new standards and felt they were well aligned to Indiana’s previous standards.  National experts contracted by the state to review the new standards have called them a “cut and paste job” and a “Common Core rebrand,” which caused voters to be skeptical of her position.

Judy and Nisly have a firm stance on the Common Core and recognized there is still work to be done on the issue:

Christopher Judy joined Hoosiers Against Common Core on stage at the Statehouse for a rally to protest the adoption of the new standards before the Indiana Education Roundtable vote on April 21st. His message has always been consistent on the issue:

“I’m against the nationalization of our education system,” Judy said. “Education works best locally.  Parents, teachers and school boards should have a high involvement in the standards.” (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette)

Politico’s recap cited Common Core as among the “top campaign issues”:

“Reps. Rebecca Kubacki and Kathy Heuer lost to challengers Curt Nisly and Christopher Judy, respectively.  Nisly and Judy both put up a major fight against the Common Core in the state and made the fight against the standards one of their top campaign issues.”

Republicans haven’t, and won’t, get far on the false premise that they “got rid” of Common Core in Indiana, especially after students return to school this fall and find the Common Core aligned textbooks and lesson plans still intact, fuzzy math and all. When parents realize they have been misled, the worst part of the Common Core battle will come forth; when it does, the opposition will be stronger and the outrage directed at Republicans.

 

 

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Comments (8)

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  1. Jim Bratten says:

    Erin,
    Great piece (as usual!).

    It seems the Indiana State Republicans are locked into the same mindset as those who claim to represent Hoosiers nationally: “How can we fool them today and still retain our seats?”
    That question has been answered loudly in the elections for House Districts 22 and 83!

    The state GOP has a problem with “standing on principle”. They think they can message something to the point of unrecognizability and educated “grassroots Hoosiers” won’t see it for what it is.

    The second problem is Gov. Pence’s redefinition of “Federalism”. Apparently, he is still using an “Inside the Beltway” dictionary. As long as federal money is attached to “Hoosier Core” it’s the same as its twin sister – just a different hair color.

    This trend of progressive Republicans losing their State House seats will only continue over the next few election cycles, as they attempt to behave like Democrats and Hoosier parents begin to assess the damage done to their children’s futures.

    Thanks again Erin and Heather!

  2. Hoosier Parent says:

    Sadly, Governor Pence has lost my future vote at the moment for any office he runs for in the future. I hope he can earn it back, but it’s tough to be optimistic given all that has transpired under his watch.

  3. Karen Ross says:

    Great article, Erin.
    Common Core was a BIG issue in our recent election where incumbent State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had a huge loss last Tuesday. She only received 35% of the votes in Indiana District 22 compared to Curt Nisly, who got 65% of the votes. (There was a large turnout in this primary, too). This was a huge victory for Nisly, whose consistent theme was “Free People Limit Government.”

    Rep. Rebecca Kubacki did not even vote to pause Common Core. (There are signs that she was influenced by Indiana Chamber of Commerce). When her constituents voiced their many concerns on CC to her, she’d say she voted the “right” way and did not regret voting that way. In six months’ time, hundreds of volunteers miraculously came together and worked hard for a candidate who would listen to us and show respect. When our district representative did not represent us, we voted her out. She got the message, loud and clear.

    As to Gov. Pence, when he was in D.C., he came across as a real conservative. Now that he is our governor, we’re learning what he’s really about. In his last State of the State address he said he wanted “Hoosier” standards. (Apparently this was his way to rebrand CC). However, the State Board of Education members that were chosen were mostly pro-Common Core people, and they basically did a cut-and-paste job with the standards, retaining about 90% of the original CC standards. The so-called “new” standards are not new. But we Hoosiers were not fooled.

    Even though Gov. Mike Pence says he’s doing away with CC standards, he STILL wants to KEEP the Race to the Top monies and the No Child Left Behind waiver. In fact, when the US Department of Education recently sent a demeaning letter to Indiana Education Supt. Glenda Ritz stating that Indiana was not meeting expectations on several requirements of its NCLB waiver, Gov. Pence immediately spoke out publicly saying that “it’s a high priority to keep the NCLB waiver”.

    Common Core State Standards remove state sovereignty and parents’ and educators’ rights. What part of that doesn’t Gov. Pence understand?

    Indiana is in a good place financially now. We are not in the red. Our Indiana Constitution (Section 8) tells what the State of Indiana can tax to support our education system. This is a good time to cut our education purse strings to the federal government.

    As long as Indiana is tied to Obama’s NCLB waiver and the shady deal of Race to the Top monies, the education of our children is controlled by the federal government’s tentacles. NCLB and Race to the Top are carrot-and-stick traps that keep states (and our innocent children) bound to the Federal Department of Education.

  4. Pete Boggs says:

    Thanks for the link Maggie. If you haven’t already, you might research the link between those ideas, Common Core & Agenda 21; other roads to serfdom.

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