Common Core has become a toxic issue in politics and with the November election coming up, every candidate appears to be against Common Core. But are they really and will they be a strong ally once elected to office? In the coming weeks, we hope to examine the people and races that are important in the battle to Stop Common Core in Michigan. Today we are taking a look at Ron Weiser.
Ron Weiser is an important man in Michigan. He is wealthy, well connected, and has been a dedicated member of the Republican Party for many years. Recently, Mr. Weiser played a key role in getting Right-to-Work passed in Michigan, home of the auto industry. Currently, Mr. Weiser aspires to be on the University of Michigan Board of Regents, his alma mater. Many Republicans in Michigan believe he has earned the right to this position as a reward and recognition for all he has done for the State and the Party.
But the question must be asked, “Should principle or political paybacks dictate who sits on a university board? ”
Many are opposing Mr. Weiser’s candidacy on principle while others are endorsing him and appear to be putting politics first. Weiser has lacked clarity in his position on Common Core and he has strong ties to the Pro-Common Core establishment in Michigan. Higher education is becoming a significant factor in the Common Core cradle-to-career education reform. and the position of the candidates matter. Early on in Mr. Weiser’s campaign to become a U of M Regent, he refused to take a position on Common Core. Perhaps that is because he is married to a key member of the Michigan Board of Education, Eileen Weiser.
In a recent email, Weiser acknowledged his position but admits that talking about Common Core is difficult because of he wants to make it to his 32 anniversary,
“I do not support Common Core and would actively oppose Common Core from being implemented at the University. My wife does support it and like many married couples we do not agree on every issue. I would like to say more about this, but I have been married for 31 wonderful years and I would like to make it to 32.
Eileen Weiser voted to bring Common Core into Michigan. As the debate about Common Core grew, some believed she would come to understand its problems and change her mind. Instead, Mrs. Weiser has increased her defense of Common Core, debating members of Stop Common Core in Michigan in public. Her arguments were not persuasive and included many of the traditional talking points that typically come from the people such as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan or President Obama. If Eileen Weiser is NOT worried that publicly supporting Common Core would jeopardize her marriage then why would he be reluctant to say more to defeat it?
But it is not just who Mr. Weiser is married to that causes us to question his ability to fight common core.
Mr. Weiser (not his wife, nor his foundation) is one of the top contributors to Great Lakes Education Project, a Republican leaning advocacy group founded on the premise of expanding school choice and charter schools. Interestingly, GLEP has been the most vocal lobbying group advocating in favor of Common Core in Michigan. Some believe Common Core serves to make national charter schools more profitable, which is why GLEP supports it so strongly. Will Weiser condemned GLEP for their support and intense lobbying to implement Common Core?
Now as the state Republican convention approaches, Weiser is claiming he is opposed to Common Core and will actively oppose it at the University of Michigan. Remember, Governor Snyder has bought into the Common Core model of P-20, which includes post K-12. He has convinced both Ted Cruz and Justin Amash to endorse him stating that he will fight Common Core and federal intervention, at least in higher education.
We would love to learn what persuaded Cruz or Amash and exactly how he will do that? Will he make sure U of M School of Education does not prepare new teachers to teach Common Core, but instead insist they learn traditional, classical education techniques? Where will these teachers get a job? What will he do when freshmen, deemed “college ready” with their Common Core diploma, show up unprepared for freshman math classes, lacking knowledge of the classics, unable to consider facts outside those hand-fed to them? Will he have the fortitude to stand up to the federal government as they try to influence admission into the university based on the Common Core’s standard of “career readiness?” Will he fight to stop a post-college exit exam which will shackle higher education and bring even greater federal control? We don’t know.
The grassroots folks who have been fighting Common Core are understandably skeptical. Mr. Weiser has not engaged Michigan or national experts who oppose Common Core to work with us and devise a strategy. When testimony was being given this year and the opportunity to vote Common Core out of Michigan happened, he was nowhere to be seen. Despite his current statements, many voters are not convinced that Weiser will fight to Stop Common Core after the election is over.
Politicians should know by now, voters are learning to judge you based on what you do, not what you say.