U.S. Senator David Vitter is reaching out to anti-Common Core voters in the Louisiana governor’s race with a new television ad highlighting his opposition to the academic standards.
The TV spot might raise some eyebrows. As recently as last August, Vitter told CSPAN that he “strongly supported” Common Core. He only started backing off the standards in December, when the Senator suddenly announced a plan to block federal incentives for the academic benchmarks.
The advertisement highlights Vitter’s efforts to stop the federal government’s push for Common Core. In March, he got an anti-Common Core amendment into the U.S. Senate version of the federal budget bill.
Common Core presents a bit of quandary for state elected officials. Louisiana’s business community wants to keep the academic standards, and has been willing to support pro-Common Core candidates with generous donations.
But there is a grassroots movement among rank-and-file conservatives to abolish Common Core. The state school board association and teacher organizations also aren’t wild about the standards. And currently, the state is undergoing a review of Common Core — which might result in an overhaul of the standards, or possibly just a rebranding. It’s unclear at this point.
Anti-Common Core advocates have an incentive to go to the polls in the upcoming statewide elections because the elected members of the state board of education — which has the power to remove the academic standards — will be on the ballot. Vitter clearly wants those voters to support him as well.
“It’s called Common Core, part of Washington’s dangerous plan to take over how we educate our kids,” he says at the top of the television spot.
Vitter is hardly alone in the governor’s race when it comes to opposing Common Core. Two other gubernatorial candidates — Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and state Rep. John Bel Edwards — are also in favor of scrapping the standards.
Of the four major gubernatorial candidates, only Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has said he would be open to supporting Common Core in place if elected.
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Julia O’Donoghue is a state politics reporter based in Baton Rouge. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @jsodonoghue. Please consider following us on Facebook at NOLA.com and NOLA.com-Baton Rouge.