Appeasement might be considered a mortal sin in dealing with an enemy, but in politics it's sometimes necessary in dealing with friends. (Although, as the saying goes, with "friends" like these )
Georgia lawmakers appeased some of their more paranoid colleagues Tuesday with what amounted to watered-down disapproval of national education standards -- specifically, the Common Core math and language standards.
How quickly things can change when the politics of pure pandering supplants reason. It wasn't so long ago that former Gov. Sonny Perdue co-chaired the panel that came up with Common Core. The program has the support of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Association of Educators -- two groups not always found on the same side of an issue -- as well as the University System of Georgia.
But ultra-conservative groups, in and out of the legislature, see Common Core as another insidious federal encroachment on state sovereignty -- a "government takeover" of education, if you will. (OK, public education is already a government function. We're talking about "big" government. That's different.)
The initial legislation proposed by Sen. William Ligon Jr., R-Brunswick, went well past what was approved Tuesday: It called for abandoning Common Core altogether. "It is important," Ligon said, "that we recognize Georgia's constitutional right to determine what will be taught in our classrooms."
It's that old political chestnut, a "solution" in search of a problem. Common Core is not and has never been a federal mandate. It was created to bring some long-needed coherence to education standards nationwide. To some, apparently, a public education Tower of Babel is preferable to anything connected to Washington.
Educators themselves don't need to search for a problem; the effort to abandon Common Core poses a huge one. They've been designing K-12 curricula around Common Core standards since the state adopted them.
The other "solution" the original legislation provided (and what this has to do with Common Core is anybody's guess) was to ban the state from collecting data on students such as political affiliation, sexuality or gun ownership. Gov. Nathan Deal, who was for Common Core before he was against it, signed an executive order prohibiting the state from collecting such information which it doesn't do anyway.
At least as distasteful as the silliness in this waste of legislative -- i.e., taxpayers'-- time is the low-bar gallery it so shamelessly plays to. (Is there anything in the original bill about one-world government, black helicopters or the Trilateral Commission?) The compromise approved Tuesday might be the best we can reasonably expect from this legislature on this issue, given the climate of the times.
But it isn't going away. The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that all seven GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate claim to oppose Common Core. The next debate moderator should ask them what's in it.