Ryan Zinke just can’t tell the truth about his work in Washington. Back in December, he issued a press release claiming that the passage of the Student Success Act meant the rollback of the Common Core State Standards. From the press release:
Today was a win for Montana K-12 students. I joined a bipartisan majority to roll back Common Core and return local control of K-12 education to the families and teachers of Montana students. Common Core has been a disaster for Montana students, and we would be doing irreparable damage to our children if we allowed it to continue as is. Test scores have dropped across multiple grade levels and subjects, and local schools are being denied needed funding unless they comply with the broken program.
Almost none of what Zinke claimed in the release is true. The Student Success Act did not roll back the Common Core Standards, which are still in place in Montana and a large majority of states. Of the 42 states and the District of Columbia that adopted the Common Core, almost all have remained steadfast in their support for the standards, which vastly improved on the ones Montana had in place before.
To support his claim that “test scores have dropped” in the “disaster” of Common Core, Zinke cited a Billing Gazette article that noted an entirely insignificant drop in test scores for fewer than a thousand Montana students. From the article the Zinke press release cites:
So what can educators take away from these results? “Not a lot,” said Lynn Kelting-Gibson, an assistant professor of classroom instruction at Montana State University.
Zinke was outright lying when he claimed failure to adopt Common Core meant schools were denied funding. In a program that many conservatives applauded, the Obama Administration did make additional funds available to states who developed high standards and changed teacher evaluation procedures, but no schools or states had money taken from their programs.
As to the assertion that Common Core has hurt students, Zinke’s opinion is at odds with polling conducted on actual teachers. While there are serious concerns that I share about the testing regime that states have developed after the implementation of Common Core, 76% of teachers favor having a uniform set of national standards. What Mr. Zinke doesn’t understand is that the Common Core Standards are just that, standards, and states and districts are free to develop their own curricula. The difference is, that with strong national standards in place, there are better materials available and higher expectations created.
You might be asking why I am responding to this December Zinke lie, when there are no doubt more current ones to debunk. Well, it seems that he’s lying to Montana Republicans about the law he voted for, too. While traveling the state, not doing the work of the people in Washington, Zinke has been telling local Republican groups that he “led the charge” to end Common Core. At the Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in Ravalli County, he even told the crowd that Congress had “killed Common Core.”
Zinke lying to gullible Republicans is hardly something new—that’s how he won a primary in 2014—but once again, it comes down to a simple matter: does Congressman Zinke once again not understand the bills he is voting for, or is he just so unconcerned with the truth that he’s willing to say anything to be elected? Either is possible when you consider that, in September of 2014, Zinke said that didn’t oppose the Common Core:
Zinke said he’s not opposing the sometimes controversial common-core standards, but said local districts should have more say on how the standards are implemented.
With Zinke, it’s either willful deception or just plain ignorance, and Montana deserves better.