DNC Emails: Common Core A ‘Third Rail’ To Ignore

DNC Emails: Common Core A ‘Third Rail’ To Ignore

The email trove WikiLeaks filched from the Democratic National Committee likely thanks to Russian cyber intelligence shows deputy communications director Eric Walker instructing colleagues to not mention Common Core because it’s a third rail. No surprise, then, that the Democratic National Committee’s new education platform doesn’t mention Common Core.

Regarding a video his team was developing that aimed to tar Republicans as anti-teacher, Walker wrote: “Common Core is a political third rail that we should not be touching at all. Get rid of it.” See a screenshot of the email below (h/t Missouri Education Watchdog).

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This helps explain why Democratic politicians paid little attention to left-leaning constituents’ objections to Common Core. Early on, the people who objected to state and national politicians imposing Common Core, sight unseen, on their children were written off as a bunch of fringe right-wingers. Polls did go on to show that the biggest opposition to Common Core came among Republican voters, but this can be seen as a chicken-and-egg event.

Because it was seen as a right-wing issue and conservatives are used to their concerns being trivialized, Republican politicians were more likely to look into it. That sort of feedback loop between constituents and state lawmakers can easily amplify interest in and knowledge about the issue inside conservative circles before people who consider themselves liberal or independent clue in. At any rate, that is indeed what happened, even though rather quickly a significant subset developed of Common Core opponents who are liberals. Take, for example, teachers union darling Diane Ravitch, who just had a big article in The New York Times about Common Core Saturday.

Ravitch reveals another reason Democratic politicians were slow to respond to constituent concerns on this issue: the Left’s comfort with big government. For years she publicly advocated for and even wrote a whole book about why we need national curriculum mandates and tests. But Common Core taught her the folly of trusting government to engineer at least this aspect of society:

The federal government, states and school districts have spent billions of dollars to phase in [Common Core], to prepare students to take the tests and to buy the technology needed to administer them online. There is nothing to show for it.

Ravitch goes on to propose different social engineering programs given that this one has failed. Unfortunately for her and for America’s kids, we’ve been doing this merry-go-round for several decades of federal education policy. It’s not that we’ve got the wrong program or not enough spending, it’s that big national programs to deal with highly local circumstances — i.e., individual human children — simply aren’t effective, period.

As I detailed in these pages in May, Common Core helps fulfill education plans Hillary Clinton has been scheming over for 30 years. Since these plans never seem to work as well in reality as they do in her head, however, don’t expect Clinton to talk much about her support for Common Core on the campaign trail. After all, it’s a third rail.

Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist and author of "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," out from Encounter Books in 2017. Get it on Amazon.
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