Posted: 6:00 pm Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Common Core and the GOP effort to keep a lid on red-zone rhetoric 

By Jim Galloway

If you’ll pardon an off-season sports metaphor, we’ve entered the red zone of the Republican primary season.

With only a dozen days before final ballots are cast, the temptation to make risky plays for hardcore voters becomes ever stronger. Opportunities for fumbles, whether forced or unforced, likewise increase.

If a dominant theme can be assigned to this nerve-wracking, inside-the-20 yard-line period, it’s likely to be the effort among some Republicans to keep November in mind, and put a lid on the extreme language once encouraged as necessary to rally the troops.

On Tuesday, video surfaced in which Bob Johnson, a surgeon and conservative, viable congressional candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah, declared he would “rather see another terrorist attack — truly I would” than endure pat-downs at airports.

“They’re indoctrinating generations of Americans to walk through a line and be prodded and probed by uniformed personnel, agents of the government, like sheep,” Johnson theorized – ‘way back in February.

Give the man credit for recognizing an unwinnable situation. “I said something stupid and should have chosen my words more carefully,” Johnson quickly confessed.

Not that a Democrat has a chance in Georgia’s coastal First District. But there’s growing GOP recognition that, in a Twitter-fed, YouTubed world, crazy talk in one race will reflect on other, more important ones. Contests for U.S. Senate and governor, for instance.

In the realm of rhetorical excess, the Affordable Care Act has been the most dependable vein for of emotional hyperbole.

Only Monday, a Tennessee state senator wrote that “Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign-ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of [mandatory] sign-ups for ‘train rides’ for Jews in the ‘40s.”

But a close second has been Common Core, the voluntary multi-state academic standards for public k-12 students.

John McLaughlin, the pollster, is well known in Georgia. His data gives guidance to Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Kingston. But on Monday, McLaughlin was working for a pro-education group called Collaborative for Student Success.

He unveiled a poll that tested Common Core’s reception among general election voters – and advised Republicans across the nation to temper their denunciations. Otherwise, he said, the education issue is likely to bite them in the fanny come November.

All right, maybe he didn’t say “fanny.” But he came close:

“All the dangers that come from being associated with the national Republican brand – being exclusive, Anglo-only, anti-woman, anti-Hispanic – are in play here and Republicans would be wise to think of this issue in a broader context,” McLaughlin said in a written conclusion.

“The anti-Common Core positions may be inviting in the short-term, but looking to November, supporting state standards that elevate school achievement have far more upside.”

Specifically, McLaughlin’s poll described two general election candidates. One maintained that “Common Core state standards are supported by 75 percent of the teachers and will help students learn more and be better prepared when they graduate high school.”

The other candidate declared Common Core was “developed in secret by the Obama administration and … imposed on kids without input from parents and local school boards.”

In McLaughlin’s hypothetical November match-up, the conspiracy theorist loses by a 2:1 ratio.

Still, the primary dynamics are tempting. More than a third of GOP primary voters preferred the “developed in secret by the Obama administration” scenario. The McLaughlin survey also shows that the intensity – always important in getting voters to the polls — is on the anti-Common Core side of the argument.

Those who “strongly” oppose Common Core outnumber “strong” proponents by that same 2:1 ratio.

Which explains why Common Core will continue to be an issue in Georgia’s nine-candidate, Republican race for school superintendent, where a small, cohesive slice of the electorate could give any candidate a berth in an all-but-certain runoff.

But the above poll could also help explain Governor Deal’s decision not to debate his GOP primary opponents. Last Saturday, at a breakfast meeting of the Cobb County GOP, one of his rivals, former Dalton mayor David Pennington, described Common Core in stark, Cold War terms. “Centralized power and authority doesn’t work,” he said. “That’s why the Soviet Union fell apart. Why are we going down the same road?”

In a red-zone debate, Deal might be tempted to match that language. But the Republican governor knows he has Democrat Jason Carter waiting for him on the other side of May 20.

And Carter has picked education – not guns, not health care – as his chosen battleground.

16 comments
EdUktr
EdUktr

"You didn't build your business" neatly defines the mindset of too many Democrats. So does aggressive redistribution of income.

Are you saying distrust of government carries potential consequences equal to that, Jim?

Tincup
Tincup

The GOTP simply cannot refrain from saying stupid stuff.  It's genetic.   Further, they do no propose, they oppose as is the case with the Affordable Care Act, Common Core, minimum wage, women's rights and every other issue.   

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

"And Carter has picked education – not guns, not health care – as his chosen battleground."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Choosing education as his chosen battleground was a wise choice for Jason Carter. Jason Carter, like his grandfather, is capable of thinking in complexities.  Common Core was first accepted, or even originated, by Republican governors including Georgia's governor.  However, some Republicans - Tea Party types - began rejecting Common Core for Georgia when their irrational fears started to surface that Common Core was President Obama's idea and that President Obama's intent was to place states under federal power, relative to Common Core. 


Rationally, Common Core standards should be supported as an improvement in education across the nation because states, such as Georgia, can compare results of the same standards with results of other states, such as Ohio, throughout the nation. To compare with valid results, states must use the same tests to ascertain students' mastery of concepts and skills taught throughout the nation. Individualized instruction for students functioning outside of the norm for their age groups can still be addressed according to the individual needs of those students. Enlightened educational leaders must allow Common Core's implementation to be flexible enough, in practice, to accommodate individual instructional needs of some students while, at the same time, accommodating the masses of students' educational advancement.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Since this is mostly a recycled blog - here is a copy of my previous post on the same subject:

There is a difference between those who support Common Core standards, but not outside curricula control beyond school boards, and not participating in the expensive PARCC testing.  Pretending/alluding/lumping all Georgia Republican candidates as simply against Common Core is a typical liberal trick.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Oh, my.  Do we no longer have any truly educated, erudite, and thoughtful Republican candidates in Georgia?  The caliber of thinking of Georgia's present Republican candidates, as reflective in the statements quoted above, is embarrassing. 


Here is one example: "Centralized power and authority doesn’t work,” he (Pennington) said. “That’s why the Soviet Union fell apart. Why are we going down the same road (regarding Common Core)?”

BigHat
BigHat

Only America-hateing pointy head bleeding heart pinko liberals like Common Core, or use turn signals.  

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@EdUktr

If you don't trust the government, then by all means feel free to reject it. Don't drive on the freeway or city streets or county roads. Don't drink the water that has been treated and purified for your safety, just go to the nearest stream or river for your water, and hope that Monsanto or Duke power hasn't dumped their toxic sludge in it. You know how useless the EPA is, and what a hindrance to these good companies it is. Don't fly on an airline, because those gummint Air Traffic Controllers can't be trusted to land you safely, nor the TSA trusted to keep guns and explosives off the plane. Don't send your kids to UGA, West GA, GA Southern, GA State or any state university, send them to Duke, Mercer or Emory. It'll only cost you five times as much, but it's worth it to you, I'm sure, because you won't be one of them socialists living off the gummint. Don't buy your meat from the grocer, instead reject that socialist stuff with the USDA stamp, and buy from Billy Bob's Wholesale Meats & Wild Animal Exterminators. Just because those chicken breasts you bought there taste like buzzard, doesn't mean they are actually buzzard breasts. Be sure and buy your Viagra from China or Mexico, their strict quality control standards will ensure you get only the finest and purest of medications, free of contamination.

I highly doubt you will do as I suggested, instead you will continue to use government services to live a long, productive life. But using those services won't stop you from whining about being taxed to pay for them, will it?

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@EdUktr - I don't mind the minor redistribution of income via "fairness" new Buffet rule tax brackets for those earning a milllion or more per year - but there are not nearly enough of them.  There should also be limits on capital gains rates, trusts and an inheritance tax, too, on the extremely wealthy that have created a permanent royalty class.  Neither of these things are going to happen because of their political connections and campaign contributions.  Do you think the Hollywood folks Obama was wooing last night with his income inequality rhetoric will go for that?

The real money is in the professional class with dual income families - but they are already in the highest marginal and effective tax brackets having lost exemptions and deductions.  That "golden goose" is being strangled and professionals are tempted to cut back on productivity to enjoy more time off instead of working for the government.

honested
honested

@The_Centrist  

How so?

Common Core was a state-by-state construction including southern Governors, many of whom smeared themselves with the stench of 'conserrrrrrrrrrrrrvative' in order to get elected before they signed on.

How is it dishonest to point out that the notion of common curriculum standards is some kind of new dog-whistle other than it obviously does not fund the for-profit-charter dreams of those like jeb bush's company or the 'walton family fund'?

Kamchak
Kamchak

@MaryElizabethSings  

 Do we no longer have any truly educated, erudite, and thoughtful Republican candidates in Georgia?

Maybe and maybe not, but I do know their rhetoric is provided for them designed for their base by linguists such as Frank Luntz.

honested
honested

@MaryElizabethSings  

I guess in pennington's world, the tyranny of rules base subjects like math, science and grammar are just more than the average teaklanner can accept.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Kamchak


When someone else, like Frank Luntz, provides your political rhetoric for you that will show forth with a kind of inauthenticity and shallowness. On the other hand, when a politician like Abraham Lincoln penned the Gettysburg Address himself, his words sprang easily from him because of the many years he had previously spent in thinking about and weighing multi-faceted ideas, in depth. Lincoln was a self-educated man who had experienced many personal tragedies, as most know. Those impacting experiences and his visionary mind, however, did not limit his equally astute pragmatic, political mind. He was a rare politician and statesman. I hope we can produce more of his caliber today and in the future.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@honested


I was thinking more about David Pennington's comparing the Soviet Union's fall with Common Core's implementation.  Absurd comparison.  Even Thomas Jefferson, an advocate for states' rights, wrote of the value of a strong central government, also.  When will leaders start thinking with depth and start seeing permutations of variables, instead of perceiving in simple dichotomies of polarization?  Reality does not work in gross dichotomies but in combinations of many variables, some of which mix the two dichotomies, such as mixing a blend of strong central government, along with securing states' rights.  Surely that type of perceiving is not too complex for politicians, especially as related to the implementation of excellent educational policies.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@MaryElizabethSings

When someone else, like Frank Luntz, provides your political rhetoric for you that will show forth with a kind of inauthenticity and shallowness.

 Yeah, kinda my point. He writes for that kind of audience.

honested
honested

@MaryElizabethSings  

Oh I understand what you meant.

I also understand that pennington and many of his true believers thought that everything would be fine in eastern Europe as soon as people were exposed to the 'free market'.

Fast forward to today, when all the resources have been piled up by the very few and the promises of prosperity still elude the workers.

Come to think of it, that pretty much describes Georgia today.