Here's a quick test; true or false?
1. Arne Duncan coerced many states into adopting the Common Core via his Race to the Top application.
2. The Obama Administration carelessly hinted that adoption of Common Core might become a requirement in a new ESEA or for states wanting a waiver from the current law.
3. Most states are free to back out of Common Core at any time, yet none have.
The answers: true, true, true!
The reason I bring this up is two-fold. First, several conservatives, perplexed by Jeb Bush's continued support for the Common Core, keep making the case that the standards aren't voluntary. And if they mean that some states adopted the standards because of federal pressure, they are right. But second, I bring it up because we are days away from the end of the 2011 state legislative session, and to my knowledge, not a single law was enacted to block a state from participating in Common Core. Yet, save for the Race to the Top winners--and the handful that might be contenders for the "round three" money this year--all of the states are free to opt out at any time, without consequence. That means, by my count, about 25 states that have chosen to stay involved in Common Core even though they don't have to. This after an election that brought 600 new seats for the Republican Party.
So are these states participating voluntarily? I'd say yes. On what basis would critics say no? I'm sure I'll get an answer.