The Leaflet – States Pushing Back On Common Core

Published June 13, 2013

States Pushing Back On Common Core

Most people did not learn about Common Core education standards until after they already had been adopted by 45 states. As more details about Common Core have come to light, a growing number of teachers, parents, and policy experts are finding many problems with the standards. As a result more than a dozen states have considered withdrawing from Common Core, while some have dropped their involvement with federally funded tests. Recently Indiana became the first state to “pause” implementation of Common Core; other states, including Michigan, are considering measures to defund it.

With so many unanswered questions regarding Common Core, Joy Pullmann, an education research fellow for The Heartland Institute, has written The Common Core: A Poor Choice for States. Pullmann is one of the nation’s leading experts on Common Core and has testified recently on this issue in Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. To assist you in navigating through the details and the current and future effects of the Common Core standards we are pleased to offer these booklets for your use.

Pullmann points out, “The public’s lack of knowledge is troubling because what is taught in public schools is of fundamental importance to the country’s democracy, individual freedom, and prosperity.”

The Heartland Institute – which also publishes School Reform News and other publications you may recognize – is happy to send an expert to your state to testify or brief your caucus, help organize an event in your state, or distribute further information on this or any other issue. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at [email protected] or 312/377-4000.

This week’s edition of The Leaflet features research and commentary addressing Common Core, fossil fuels and the environment, medical device taxes, and wireless taxes.


John Nothdurft
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute


Policy Tip Sheet: Common Core Standards

Most states have traded their education standards for Common Core national standards. State leaders were told Common Core would not infringe on state and local control, would establish high academic quality, and would improve student performance. Unfortunately, none of this became true when the standards were actually written.

Common Core was written behind closed doors, largely by four education consultants employed by private organizations. Because of this, most state lawmakers and citizens did not hear about Common Core until after state boards and departments of education had quickly adopted it and corresponding national tests, with the Obama administration having presented adoption as the surest route to eligibility for federal Race to the Top money.

As they have learned how Common Core will affect curricula, teaching, and testing, state lawmakers and citizens have objected strenuously, leading more than a dozen states to consider withdrawing, while others have dropped their involvement with federally funded tests. The main concerns include Common Core’s questionable academic quality, nontransparent creation and quick adoption, federal involvement, links to a vast expansion of student data-mining, and further erosion of state and local control.

Research Fellow Joy Pullmann recommends, “States should replace Common Core with higher-quality, state-controlled academic standards and tests not funded by the federal government. They should secure student data privacy and ensure national testing mandates do not affect instruction in private and home schools.”



Research & Commentary: Fossil Fuels and the Environment

One of the main arguments of fossil fuel critics in support of government investments in renewable sources of energy, is if fossil fuels weren’t able to externalize the costs of the environmental damage they inflict, they would have fewer cost advantages over renewable sources.

Policy Analyst Taylor Smith points out that fossil fuel prices also externalize innumerable benefits for society. Fossil fuels have been at the foundation of the largest expansion of human capital in the history of mankind. It is only through the sort of human capital expansion that comes from the free use of affordable and abundant energy that we can possibly expect any technological breakthrough to transition away from these fuels.

Research & Commentary: Medical Device Tax
Health Care

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was passed with the expressed intention of reducing the cost of health care while expanding coverage. But the law’s tax on medical devices actually does the opposite by increasing costs while reducing the availability of these products.

As of January 1, 2013, PPACA requires manufacturers to pay a 2.3 percent excise tax on the medical devices they produce, to help fund health care expansion. The tax is imposed on a wide variety of manufactured medical devices such as pacemakers but excludes products such as eyeglasses and hearing aids that are sold directly to consumers and not through their insurance at a hospital. PPACA gives the IRS and FDA the authority to set additional exemptions.

In this Research & Commentary Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans contends the medical device tax is a poorly designed levy that will serve only to increase health care costs and kill product innovation while costing the nation thousands of jobs. The will to repeal this burdensome tax already exists—in March the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly (79–20) in a nonbinding budget resolution to repeal the tax.

Research & Commentary: Ohio Municipal Income Tax Reform
Budget & Tax

Ohio is one of only a handful of states that allow local governments to levy income taxes and the only state that allows each municipality to draft its own set of rules and regulations about who must pay taxes, how much tax they will pay, and on what type of income the tax will be charged. In most other states that allow municipalities to charge an income tax, only larger cities have imposed a tax. According to the Buckeye Institute, Ohio currently has 593 municipalities levying local income taxes, and only Pennsylvania has more.

In an effort to improve their state’s economic competitiveness, Ohio legislators are considering major reforms to the state’s unique municipal income tax system. House Bill 5 was introduced by state Reps. Cheryl Grossman and Michael Henne to streamline Ohio’s municipal income tax system, which is currently a jumble of local rules and forms.

In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans examines House Bill 5 and how it would simplify and streamline the municipal taxing systems by creating a new, uniform set of rules for municipalities that tax income and implement a new, standardized definition of what business and individual income is taxable. While the ideal reform would be to eliminate or at least lower income tax rates, the proposed reforms would be a significant step toward simplifying Ohio’s tax system and making the state more economically competitive.

Research & Commentary: Wireless Tax Fairness Act Reintroduced


Almost half the U.S. states now impose a wireless tax above 10 percent; the national average is approximately 17.1 percent. Even as revenue earned per wireless phone falls, taxes and fees climb. Legislative efforts to combat these high tax rates may now be taking a step forward. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) have reintroduced the Wireless Tax Fairness Act.

The act would put a five-year moratorium on discriminatory state wireless phone and data service tax increases. Although this wouldn’t prevent governments from creating new taxes and fees on all communications, it would disallow them from targeting any one service. A five-year freeze would slow the rate of tax increases while allowing more time to create a new taxing system for wireless that is more carefully developed, fair, and non-disruptive.

In this Research & Commentary, Glans argues high wireless taxes burden consumers and the wireless market, deterring innovation and infrastructure improvements, while disproportionately affecting minority and low-income populations. A moratorium on these discriminatory tax hikes would benefit the economy and consumers.