DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Terry Branstad said he’s not trying to stop the Common Core in Iowa, he just wants to make sure local school boards get to choose curriculum.
On Thursday, the governor announced he signed Executive Order 83, which says “the State of Iowa, not the federal government or any other organization,” will determine the content of state academic standards.
It also says the state Department of Education will provide only aggregate student data to the federal government to comply with federal laws and warns that the constitutional rights of Iowans will not be “violated through an overreach by the federal government into Iowa’s educational system.”
The Common Core is an initiative promoted by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association. It seeks to have a single set of education standards for states across the country.
There’s resistance to the effort by some groups, often aligned with conservatives or the Republican Party, who think the Common Core is a takeover of state and local education systems by the federal government.
“What we’re saying is this: We want to make sure this is an Iowa academic standard and the needs of our state are not going to be dictated by the federal government, and we believe what we did was clarify what the Iowa Core is all about, and that is the state academic standards,” Branstad said Thursday as he was leaving a conference at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny.
“What we need to have is a uniform standard of what students need to know at each grade level, but in terms of how (local districts) teach them and the curriculum they use, that will be developed locally. The standard is just what is expected to be known, but how you teach it is a local determination.”
In a meeting with the Iowa State Board of Education last month, Branstad said he wanted to continue aligning the state-developed Iowa Core with the Common Core.
That created some blowback for the governor from Iowa conservatives such asShane Vander Hart, a political consultant and founder of Iowans for Local Control.
On Thursday, Vander Hart called the executive order “a positive first step” for the governor.
"I am encouraged that Governor Branstad recognizes the federal overreach present in the adoption of the Common Core State Standards by Iowa and 44 other states," he said in a prepared statement. "This is a positive first step in addressing concerns we have with the Common Core State Standards, and we look forward to working with the governor and the state legislature to ensure Iowa will have standards superior to the Common Core and that local control is respected."