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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Getting to the Core of Common Core

2016 June 01

Heard of Common Core, but not sure what it is? Curious about how states receive federal funding for education? Below, we break down this hot-button issue, and provide the 2016 presidential candidates’ stances towards Common Core.   


What is the Debate over Common Core?
There is a lot of contention around the national set of education standards, known as Common Core. These standards are used by teachers and school staff to design lesson plans, as an assessment of student achievement at the end of each grade, and as a benchmark for students to reach.

It is important to note that states are not forced to comply with Common Core - Alaska, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Indiana, Virginia, South Carolina, Minnesota, and the U.S territory of Puerto Rico have not fully adopted these standards. However, all other states and U.S territories have adopted Common Core state standards. States that adopt the standards receive more opportunities for federal competitive grants.

Can the federal government tell states how to educate its students? Should they require states to adopt national standards in order to have more opportunities for federal funding? These are the questions that many politicians are debating, making Common Core a heated issue in the 2016 election.

Current Federal Funding for Education:
The underlying issue surrounding Common Core is federal funding of public schools. There are a myriad of federal programs that are funding public schools throughout America, and they have been for some time.

Some of these include Title I, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education ...

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What is a Contested Convention?

2016 May 26

"Following an unusual primary season, we may see a contested convention for the first time in a long time."
Read Vote Smart's breakdown of contested conventions.

The Balancing Act of Determining Discrimination

2016 May 17

Multiple “religious freedom” bills are currently capturing the attention of state legislatures across the country. “Religious freedom” bills are proposed legislation that call for religious organizations, businesses, and individuals to be protected from penalties for declining to provide services to individuals whose lifestyle conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

May Common Ground E-Newsletter

2016 May 06

May Common Ground E-Newsletter: See what is going on at Vote Smart!

Political Research Wrap-Up: Spring 2016

2016 April 27

 Political news that you may have missed this spring

The Plan to Close Guantanamo Bay

2016 April 21

 For years, the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, located in Cuba, has been used by the United States government to house potential threats to national security. Throughout its existence, it has been met with numerous accusations, scandals, and an ongoing debate over alleged human rights violations. Recently, President Barack Obama proposed a plan to effectively shut down the facility.

Polarization of the Supreme Court Vacancy

2016 April 13

 On February 13, 2016, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. According to the United State Constitution, the president-elect is responsible for nominating the replacement justice, and the Senate is then responsible for confirming or denying that nomination; however, some politicians are calling for President Barack Obama to abstain from the nomination, leaving 8 justices to make judicial decisions for almost a year.

Can Someone Please Tell Me What is Happening?

2016 March 31 - Richard Kimball

 Our political culture is shifting course on a galactic scale right in front of our slackened jaws. Its destination unknown?

Presidential Foreign Policies

2016 March 30

 ..foreign policy has become one of the main focuses of the election cycle. Each presidential candidate has their own take on foreign policy and America's role in the Middle East right now.

Bathroom bills bearing down on states across America

2016 March 11

 Emerging onto the floor of numerous state legislatures across the United States of America is a new and divisive kind of legislation: “bathroom bills.” Bathroom bills are proposed legislation that address whether individuals may use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender they identify with or with the gender they were assigned at birth. 

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