Common Core in our schools: Another sign of the tea party taking control of the local GOP to win local races

Haas: Anti-Common Core rhetoric
Haas: Anti-Common Core rhetoric
We’re written before about the morphing between the once-moderate Nevada County Republican Party and the politically extreme Nevada County Tea Party Patriots to win races for board of supervisors, superintendent of schools and superior court judges — you name it — in our community.

We’ve seen new tea party PAC money infiltrate some of the local races, supporting candidates such as Dan Miller for supervisor, Anna Ferguson for judge, and Cliff Newell for DA.

This is not a “nonpartisan” exercise. This is an ideological crusade by the tea party. The group’s 40-year-plan “to take back our country” tackles four areas: educational, judicial, political and cultural, and it seeks to infuse them with conservative teachers, judges, politicians and musicians, as tea-party co-founder and local resident Mark Meckler has stated.

The latest political battleground has spilled into our schools and our children’s classrooms, focusing on the Common core curriculum. Common Core was created by the U.S. governors five years ago as a bipartisan effort to set standards in American schools. It has been adopted in the public (and private) schools in our community — and most of the nation, for that matter.

Common Core is fueling divisions among Republicans nationwide, but our community’s GOP political groups — largely influenced and led by arch-conservative retirees and activisits — are tilting toward the tea-party aligned officials, including Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who want to delay or abandon it. Some examples:

•Paul Haas, a candidate for county superintendent of schools seeking to unseat Holly Hermansen, said at a candidate’s forum this week he is opposed to Common Core curriculum, adding that he has won the endorsement of the Nevada County Republican Party. Though Haas has said he’s not affiliated with the tea party, his Common Core rhetoric — a “top-down solution,” “expensive experiment” and so on — closely matched what you hear from the tea-party aligned officials.

•The local GOP website reads: “COMMON CORE TOWN HALL — DISCUSS THE PROBLEMS AND HOW YOU CAN OPT OUT!” pointing to a “town hall” meeting on April 29 at the Elk’s Club in Grass Valley. That’s an activist-minded call to action by the local GOP, not merely a discussion.

Among Republicans, supporters of Common Core include moderate Republican governors and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who view it is a way to improve student performance and the competitiveness of American workers.

But the tea-party contingent likens it to Obamacare. Paul and Cruz, among others, are sponsoring a measure that would bar federal financing of Common Core.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

15 thoughts on “Common Core in our schools: Another sign of the tea party taking control of the local GOP to win local races”

  1. The national momentum of various Tea Party groups in not benign. Sadly, the phenomenon is also present in Nevada County. It would be a mistake to sit by and believe that these groups will drown from their own rhetoric. The only way thinking people can rid this cancer from our country and our county is by actively supporting intelligent politicians nationally and locally. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly innocuous issues these Tea Party types wrap their flag around, you might end up looking around wondering what happened to your voting rights, your health care, your clean water, and the list goes on…

  2. Having been at the League of Women Voters Candidates Form I would like to weigh in on this. The reference in the Jeff’s post states, “Paul Haas, a candidate for county superintendent of schools seeking to unseat Holly Hermansen, said at a candidate’s forum this week he is opposed to Common Core curriculum.”

    If you go to his campaign website you will see that he is actually NOT opposed to the curriculum provision of Common Core and at the forum did not say he was. He really thinks the changes in curriculum from the mandates of No Child Left Behind will allow for greater local control in this area. What he is cautious about is the testing mandates.

    For more information on this, his website is under the Issues tab.

    1. Nancy,

      Good to hear from you. The last time you came to this blog you wrote: “I don’t know of any political candidate who has ever been endorsed by the Tea Party as an organization. As Mark Meckler has said time and time again, ‘We don’t endorse candidates. Let them endorse us.’”

      You also sought to downplay the “Tea Party-ness” in the “Americans for Good Government” PAC, even though its major contributor is Mark Meckler’s father. It is managed by tea party members.

      Thanks for helping us better understand the link between candidate Haas and the tea party.

      Bring on the transparency!

      1. Wow, Jeff!

        I know of no link between Mr. Haas and the Tea Party, so please don’t “stretch” and use my comment to try to make one. You might want to contact him, though, and verify it directly from him.

        In addition, I have no link to the Tea Party. I’m a libertarian in my thinking and have been registered as such since 1978. I attended a gathering at the National Hotel in 1988 when Dr. Ron Paul came to Nevada County to speak during his candidacy on the Libertarian ticket for the presidency. I do, however, agree with the 3 tenets of the Tea Party as they are very libertarian in nature.

        What you are referring to in your comment is my comment on your earlier post using the label “Tea Party PAC” where I alluded to the Venn Diagram, the Nevada County Tea Party, and the Americans for Good Government PAC. I think it goes something like this: All salmon are fish, but not all fish are salmon. PAC members could also be Methodists, or drive mini vans, or owners of McDonalds, but that doesn’t mean all Methodists, drivers of mini vans, or owners of McDonalds support the actions or goals of the PAC. My point, not all tea party members are AGG PAC members so why call it the Tea Party PAC? Nowhere else had I seen it referred to as the Tea Party PAC. Yubanet referred to it as “a newly created PAC, called Americans for Good Government, managed by Tea Party members” which may be the more accurate description, and which I see you have used above. As for Mark Meckler’s father being a part of this PAC, and a major contributor, oh my gosh!

        Well, carry on, Jeff! Thanks for the forum you provide. It’s interesting exchanging ideas with stimulating and thoughtful people. Have a great rest of your weekend!

      2. Hi Nancy,

        In fact, Yubanet also referred to it as a “Tea Party PAC” in the story I cited above. Go back and read it. Why? Because the PAC is managed by tea party members, and its major contributors are tea party members (include the former local president, Stan Meckler).

        Mr. Haas’ talking points for Common Core, also reported in The Union, read like the talking points of the tea party-alligned officials who have been outspoken against it.

        BTW, the three tenants of the tea party are very general in nature and supported by Republicans, Democrats and independents. Oh my gosh, as you would say! The trouble with the tea party is their political activism (a rigid political and social agenda) speak louder than words.

        In the case of the tea party influencing these supposedly non-partisan races, I’m reminded of the old Mark Twain saying: “”It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

  3. This is just another attempt to delegitimize the Obama presidency. These folks who do not believe that Obama’s election is a valid expression of the national electorate are calling it “Obamacore.”

    This extraconstitutional sentiment has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility, limited government, or free markets. It’s unpatriotic behavior whose roots go back to Nixon’s resignation. Every Democratic president since that time–Carter, Clinton, and now Obama–have been painted with the same delegitimization brush.

    It’s a very unfortunate calculated political strategy that prevents anyone who is trying to remain objective about Common Core from closely investigating its tenets, or forming educated opinions based simply on its merits and faults.

  4. In the aftermath of the Goldwater defeat, after proving the success of the “Southern Strategy” with the election of Richard Nixon, strode Lewis Powell and the famous “Powell Memo”. If you think about American politics and you have not read the 1971 “Powell Memo”, you should.

    The next year Lewis Powell was on the Supreme Court, and the reframing of Republicanism began with the rise of the ‘new right’ comprised of conservative business, religious fundamentalism, libertarians, old cold warriors, and disaffected redneck white voters. Thus began the long sad slide of the American middle class as a substantial portion of them embraced the leaders destroying their interests.

  5. Common Core and No Child Left Behind are not particularly a clean partisan issue, although partisans from both sides seem to be framing it that way.

    Good people on the right and left are skeptical about the nationalization of school curriculum, and I tend to agree with them (Diane Ravitch is one of them). Virginia, Minnesota, and Texas are among the states that never opted in–hardly ideological bedmates. But they are agreed that education is best not coordinated by the National Governor’s Association and the US Department of Education.

    Certainly there need to be protection of basic civil rights, and educational opportunity. But this does not mean that the US Department of Education (or the National Governor’s Association) need to design a one-size fit all curriculum, along with standards for supervising teachers.

    1. Tony, thanks for expanding on this. Count me among those who are skeptical of federal education rules and standards. However, I am dismayed when that opposition is spun to include anything and everything supported by the Obama administration. Equating the PPACA to Common Core makes me want to support it, despite its shortcomings.

  6. The Southern Strategy has always included “Keep em poor, keep em stupid.” That’s the GOP base, other then the .01%.

  7. There a many many ways to measure school performance, none of which is an absolute measure of “quality.” Graduation rates is one of them, as Bruce suggests. But so is this one, where California comes out on top for winning gold and sliver medals for AP tests.

    The NEA also publishes a whole book of rankings here.

    As for state achievements, many of the best high schools in the general rankings are in the Washington suburbs of northern Virginia where presumably the federal bureaucrats at the US Department of Education live—which is why I find it ironic that that Virginia opts out of having more federal/governor’s attempts to centralize education. And then other members of the select “opt-out” group are Rick Perry’s Texas, and Garrison Keilor’s Minnesota.

    Then of course there are the international PISA rankings, etc. which Chinese-speaking students, and Finns usually “win.” In other words, enough gold medals for everyone to achieve something—just like in Lake Wobegone, every school can be above average.

    Which is why I tend to say that except for very basic civil rights guarantees, the federal government should probably let the states wrestle with the conflicting demands brought to school administration by parents, local communities, and others. Some problems have federal solutions (civil rights guarantees are one), but not all do.

  8. I’m sure hard-right and tea-party political activist Barry Pruett wishes the rest of us took him as seriously as he does:

    This “analysis” forgot to mention that Pruett contributed money to Dan Miller’s campaign, and he supports Hank Weston’s re-election, Anna Ferguson for judge, Cliff Newell for DA and Paul Hass for superintendent. He is a political activist and small-town political operative masquerading as a “commentator.”

    No one will forget the ugly campaign Pruett ran against Greg Diaz for clerk-recorder (losing in every precinct) yet he condemns “smearing an incumbent personally and dishonestly is not good.”

    And while dishing on the skeleton’s in the other candidates’ closet, he forget to mentions the ones in the closet of the candidate whom he supports. A double standard, to be sure. Ludicrous and dishonest, in fact, when you know the details of all of them.

    Small-town politics are a hoot! But I told my son the other day I’m a firm believer on cutting your teeth in a big city before you return to a small town. Otherwise, your view of the world is totally warped.

    BTW, Barry, to native Californians, who honor the state’s Spanish and Mexican heritage, culture and language, I think it’s “No es bueno” in your post, not “no bueno.” A rookie mistake.

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