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What Ted Cruz Talks About When He Talks About Common Core

If the hated education standards aren't federal law, how do you “repeal” them?
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) February 26, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) February 26, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

For at least five months, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been punctuating his speeches with a demand to "repeal Common Core." He previewed the line in a pre-midterm column, published by USA Today in October 2014; Common Core needed to be repealed, "so that local curriculum is not mandated by Washington bureaucrats." When Cruz took this on the road, audiences dutifully clapped and cheered; reporters dutifully noted the applause. (Most reporters, not all.)

It took until March 16 for a progressive voice to ask what the heck Cruz was talking about. At ThinkProgress, Judd Legum reported on a Cruz tweet—"We need to repeal every word of Common Core!"—with the headline "Ted Cruz Makes Impassioned Plea For Repeal Of Federal Legislation That Does Not Exist." Matter-of-factly, Legum explained that "Common Core is not, in fact, a federal law," that its standards were "developed by the states," and that the federal government played "no role" in writing them.