In a hearing before a House appropriations subcommittee Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defended the competitive grants built into his fiscal 2015 budget request, gave no substantive details about a proposed Race to the Top for equity contest, and continued to distance himself from the Common Core State Standards.
“I’m just a big proponent of high standards. Whether they’re common or not is secondary,” he told members of the House appropriations subcommittee that works on health, education, and other related issues.
Duncan also maintained that there are “zero” federal grants tied to the common core, after being pressed by members, including Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., who has filed legislation to prohibit the federal government from trying to encourage states via grants or waivers to adopt certain standards. (Note I clarified Roby’s position, as she’s not explictly anti-common-core, just against the federal government getting involved in such things.) Duncan pointed out that in instances where U.S. Department of Education programs such as No Child Left Behind Act waivers are tied to common standards, they include a back-up option for non-common-core states: getting universities to approve the standards as college-ready. (Virginia has a waiver, but has not adopted the common core.)