Dems avoid Common Core as new ‘third rail’

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Leaked emails in the recent Democratic National Committee (DNC) Wikileaks hack reveal that DNC officials view Common Core as a political “third rail” and want party members to avoid talking about it. Well, sometimes, at least.

The remarks were made by DNC deputy communications director Eric Walker while discussing a planned video that would denounced the GOP as hostile to teachers. Walker was highly critical of a part of the video that would mention Common Core, and said it had to go at all costs.

“Common Core is a political third rail that we should not be touching at all. Get rid of it,” Walker said in the email sent May 3.

Walker also told them to delete lines showing Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz promoting local control of education, because that’s actually a winner with voters.

“Most people want local control of education so having Cruz and Trump saying it on a DNC video is counterproductive,” he said. “Would get rid of any references to that.”

The DNC’s approach to Common Core is inconsistent, though, and apparently based on tactical considerations about what group they want to reach out to. Just one day after Walker told them to purge Common Core from a video, Walker approved a press release that described Trump’s education policies as “disastrous” partly because he had vowed to eliminate Common Core.

Common Core opposition is mostly associated with the political right, but there is also vocal dissent on the left, often tied to opposition against using standardized tests to evaluate teachers and students. In New York, Common Core was substantially overhauled after thousands of students, many egged on by teachers, opted out of standardized tests. In Massachusetts, the state abandoned the Common Core-aligned PARCC exam, though the standards are remaining in place after a proposed referendum was struck down by a state court.

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