Coming out of the gate with appointments, the team advising Gov. Greg Abbott seems to have made an initial early misstep by appointing an advocate of “common core” to the University of Texas board of regents. This is most surprising, given the strong stance Abbott has taken in opposing Common Core in specific and the federalization of education in general.
Among Abbott’s appointees to the UT Board of Regents announced on Thursday is Sara Martinez Tucker, the CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative. Writing in US News and World Report in February of 2014, she praised the controversial Common Core initiative being promoted by the Obama Administration.
“We should move the discussion to ‘how’ Common Core will be implemented – not ‘if’ Common Core should be implemented,” she wrote.
Ironically, just a few months after penning her support of Common Core, then-A.G. Greg Abbott issued a ruling from his office that “Texas school districts… may not use the Common Core State Standards Initiative” as a way to comply with the state’s academic standards.
If the Texas Senate confirms her appointment, Tucker will be overseeing the education of thousands of our state’s next generation of classroom teachers.
It is interesting to note that in 2013 then-State Sen. Dan Patrick (now Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick) was leading the charge in the Legislature to make sure Common Core would not be imposed on Texas schools. Indeed, Abbott’s ruling noted above was issued at Patrick’s request. (And lest someone think Patrick has gone soft on the issue, in his inaugural address this week he specifically took at aim at Common Core, saying a priority would be to keep the federal government out of Texas’ schools.)
Despite Tucker’s cheery defense of Obama’s Common Core, the debate is far from over. A January 22, 2015, article in the Washington Post is headlined, “Common Core tests set kids up to fail.”
Over the next several days we will be looking a lot more closely at this appointee and the others. Hopefully Mr. Abbott’s staff won’t continue to miss such glaring contradictions in future appointments.