Washington – The U.S. Senate agreed Thursday to a proposal by David Vitter, R-La., to shield states from any negative effects of federal policy due to rejecting or abandoning the use of the Common Core educational standards.
The 54-46 party-line vote attached an amendment to the overall federal budget proposal backed by the Senate’s Republican majority. A vote on the full proposal was expected late Thursday or early Friday.
The budget plan does not have the force of law, nor does it require Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature, but it constitutes a significant statement of policy and can factor into spending decisions.
The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade. They were developed by education officials from the states and by private consultants to allow comparison of students’ performance. More than 40 states, including Louisiana, have adopted them, with Louisiana students taking tests this year for the first time under the program.
But Common Core has emerged as a contentious political issue, particularly among conservatives, many of who regard the program as federal intrusion into local schools. That’s in part because the federal government has tied adoption of Common Core to distribution of Race to the Top funds for schools and to the issuance of waivers from requirements of the No Child Left Behind education-reform law. Vitter’s amendment would ban such linkages and similar incentives.
Vitter, a candidate for governor this year, supported Common Core until changing his mind last year. That’s also true of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who cannot run for re-election but is considering a White House bid in 2016.
Jindal filed suit against the federal government last year, arguing that the federal promotion of Common Core is unconstitutional. The suit is pending.
Jindal has sought to get rid of Common Core in Louisiana, but so far has not overcome resistance by educational officials and legislators. He plans to keep trying.