McCain says new law does away with Common Core

Posted at 7:08 PM, Feb 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-29 00:48:14-05

Is Common Core gone?

Sen. John McCain said as much in a Jan. 4 interview with the Daily Courier in Prescott. He said the Every Student Succeeds Act "did away basically with Common Core." 

"...did away basically with Common Core."

We decided to put McCain's claim through a PolitiFact truth test. 

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Common Core, the controversial set of education standards aimed to make students more college ready, was repealed by the Arizona State Board of Education in October. It's still present this school year, though, as the state reworks its standards. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December, gives states more freedom to develop their own K-12 education standards.

The Every Student Succeeds Act doesn't end Common Core, but it does mention Common Core standards several times. The part McCain is talking about reads: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit a State from withdrawing from the Common Core State Standards or from otherwise revising their standards.”

In other words, the new law says states can choose whatever standards they seek fit. 

But is that so different from what states could do before? U.S. Department of Education spokeswoman Jo Ann Webb said that Common Core was never a federal mandate. States adopted the standards voluntarily, as we’ve reported before.

Cornell University Associate Professor John Sipple, who specializes in education policy, said McCain’s statement is misleading, noting that it's basically a choice. 

“States are on their own. They’re welcome to choose the Common Core, they’re welcome to choose another opportunity,” Sipple said.

"States are on their own. They're welcome to choose Common Core, they're welcome to choose another opportunity."

More than 40 states currently have Common Core State Standards. However, a number of states, including Arizona, are revising their education standards. For example Kansas, West Virginia and Alabama all have bills in their legislatures to repeal Common Core.

Our ruling

McCain said the Every Student Succeeds Act “did away basically with Common Core.”

The Every Student Succeeds Act does not do away with Common Core. Common Core still exists in states throughout the country. A state can still decide whether or not they want to implement those standards, or they can create their own.

Education policy is not as cut and dry as McCain makes it out to be, so we rate McCain's claim as mostly false. 


For the complete fact-check, visit our news partner, PolitiFact Arizona