GOP platform: Dump Common Core, pass school choice

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The GOP’s 2016 platform, approved by party delegates Monday night, denounces Common Core just a few years after party leaders played a major role in implementing it.

It also offers a host of other deeply conservative positions on education.

“We reject a one-size-fits-all approach to education and support a broad range of choices for parents and children at the state and local level,” the final GOP platform says. “We likewise repeat our longstanding opposition to the imposition of national standards and assessments, encourage the parents and educators who are implementing alternatives to Common Core, and congratulate the states which have successfully repealed it.”

The condemnation of Common Core represents a big swing in party sentiment since 2010, when Republican leaders played a major role in helping to implement Common Core in over 40 U.S. states. In large part, Common Core’s popularity was undone by the belief it was a plot by the Obama administration to exert federal control on K-12 education. While the Obama administration didn’t write Common Core, it encouraged its adoption through the Race to the Top program, where states could improve their chances of receiving federal stimulus money if they agreed to adopt Common Core.

Notably, the platform does not promise to pursue a federal repeal of Common Core. While GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to get rid of Common Core, this doesn’t appear to be possible for him to do, because Common Core doesn’t exist as a federal statute.

While some GOP-controlled states, like Oklahoma, have officially repealed Common Core, it remains in effect in many others. Repeal efforts have fallen short in states such as Georgia, Tennessee, and South Dakota.

The platform weighs in briefly on a host of other issues in education as well. It labels the Obama administration’s recent transgender bathroom decree both “illegal” and “dangerous,” urges curtailment of teacher tenure to make it easier to fire ineffective educators, and calls for a dramatic expansion in school choice laws nationwide.

“Empowering families to access the learning environments that will best help their children to realize their full potential is one of the greatest civil rights challenges of our time,” the platform says. “A young person’s ability to succeed in school must be based on his or her God-given talent and motivation, not an address, ZIP code, or economic status.”

The platform in particular endorses education savings accounts, like those used in an ambitious Nevada program, and the expansive use of charter schools in Washington, D.C.

In the realm of college education, the platform suggests privatizing student loans, deregulating college accreditation and for-profit education, and reducing federal pressure on schools to police sexual assault.

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