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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

January 27, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Key Democratic committee condemns Common Core

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

The governing body of the Washington State Democratic Party voted to condemn the educational benchmarks known as the Common Core at a party meeting in Olympia on Saturday, saying private and corporate interests pushed the reading and math standards without evidence they will improve student learning.

A resolution, adopted by the party’s Central Committee, asks state lawmakers and schools chief Randy Dorn to revoke the standards, which Washington — like most states — adopted in 2011.

David Spring, a leader in the party’s progressive caucus and a precinct committee officer from North Bend, announced the resolution on a website he and two other teachers created to publicize their viewpoints.

The resolution names the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which helped write the Common Core, as private groups that received millions to create the standards, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as a group that has donated millions to support them.

The resolution criticizes the U.S. Department of Education, saying it improperly pressured states into adopting the Common Core by making the standards a requirement for states or districts that wanted to win one of the big grants that the department gave out under its Race to the Top initiative.

Spring said about two-thirds of the more than 200 Democrats who attended Saturday’s meeting voted in favor of the resolution.

“We were hoping it’d pass by even one vote,” said Spring, a retired math teacher. “It passed with, like, 50 votes to spare.”

The Democrats’ move mirrors a similar resolution Republicans passed a year ago, when that party’s central committee passed a resolution opposing the Common Core at a state committee meeting.

In a way, the move unites Democrats with some Republicans in opposing the Common Core, albeit for different reasons. While some Republicans see the common standards as federal overreach into education, Democrats such as Spring say the Common Core represents too strong an influence from corporations and billionaires like Gates.

“The end goal of what we want is the same (as Republicans),” Spring said. “We all want local control, by a locally controlled school board.”

The Central Committee is made up of one man and one woman from each legislative district and county.

It’s not yet clear whether the Committee’s sentiment will carry weight in Olympia. To date, there has been no big debate in Washington over the Common Core, even as a number of other states have fielded intense opposition and some have scrapped the standards entirely.

But Spring thinks the Democrats vote will resonate, and at least one Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Maralyn Chase of Shoreline, said Monday she would likely support repealing the Common Core in Washington.

Comments | More in News | Topics: common core, David Spring, Olympia Watch

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