Common Core at Stake in State Board of Ed Race
Despite Michigan being a leader in the nationwide, state-lead effort to create and adopt a common K-12 curriculum and a governing member of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, two of the candidates for the state's highest school board have made ending Michigan's involvement in the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) a central point of their candidacies. Tea Party Republican candidates Todd Courser (R-Lapeer) and Melanie Kurdys (R-Portage) ousted current Republican state board member Nancy Danhof (R-East Lansing) from the ticket at this year's Republican convention, primarily due to her support for Common Core.
The CCSSI—which is a voluntary, state-lead effort coordinated by the National Governor's Association (NGA)—has been a Tea Party target issue across the country. The group has painted it as federal government overreach into state education policy. They point to federal incentives for states which voluntarily adopt the standards as evidence that the entire effort is what Mr. Courser referred to in one interview as "an Obama-Soros education project" or what some conservative pundits have referred to as Obamacation.
The Board is currently controlled by Democrats who hold a 5-3 majority, but with Danhof's ouster and current board treasurer Marianne MacGuire (D-Detroit) choosing not to run for another term, control of the board is at question in this election. The election of two anti-Common Core candidates to the board could lead to a significant change in policy direction for Michigan.
Courser and Kurdys will face off against Democrats Michelle Fecteau (D-Detroit) and Lupe Ramos-Montigny (D-Grand Rapids) as well as a host of third party candidates. Because straight ticket votes are counted for the state board race, high Republican turnout could propel the two anti-Common Core activists to victory unless Republican voters choose to split their ticket.