Legislation to largely divorce Georgia schools from the national Common Core standards is at the point bills get sometimes when you get the feeling that some of its supporters are starting to wonder if the whole thing is worth it.
From the perspective of electoral politics, Senate Bill 167 is a conservative, even libertarian bill. (See its features on electronic privacy.) But it does Democrats a favor without doing anything specific to improve student learning. It opens an ideological front with left when the left is looking for just that. They need issues, state issues, to distract from federal issues that are unflattering to Democrats, like Obamacare.
If the House passes legislation to hinder Common Core in Georgia, the governor likely would sign it. As policy, it would be like a punt, because right now no one can say what should replace Common Core as a curriculum standard.
As politics, it’s bad for Republicans. Lucky for them, most of the public in Georgia doesn’t give a fig either way.
Yes, if you present a list of public policy priorities and ask poll respondents to put them in order of importance, they will place ‘education’ at or near the top.
But this abstract concern doesn’t translate well at the ballot box. Generally there’s only two ways a voter believes you can improve schools – spend more money, or rewrite the curriculum and the testing. And every new generation of politicians at the Gold Dome thinks they’ve got an obligation to tweak the schools.
Not that they shouldn’t. But the time and place and method of redoing Georgia’s public school instruction should be carefully chosen. One indicator that it hasn’t been is that the reformers don’t have an end game. And the GOP at the Capitol doesn’t seem to.