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Common Core clash: AL-5 hopefuls Wardynski, Sanford spar over education

The race for Alabama’s open fifth congressional district seat has begun to intensify as two upper tier GOP candidates grapple over the issue of Common Core standards in public education.

Former State Sen. Paul Sanford of late has honed in on GOP primary rival Casey Wardynski and his tenure as superintendent of Huntsville City Schools.

According to the most recent public polling, Sanford and Wardynski are jockeying for positioning ahead of the May 24 primary election in an attempt to earn a spot in a possible runoff election with the race’s apparent frontrunner, Madison County Commission chairman Dale Strong.

During routine campaign stops, Sanford has alluded to past statements Wardynski made regarding Common Core when he was leader of the Huntsville school district.

The issue was raised once more by Sanford earlier this week at the Limestone County Republican Party executive committee meeting, which prompted a response from Wardynski’s wife, Karen.

Mrs. Wardynski then rebuffed Sanford’s contention by stating that the then-superintendent was forced to adhere to the Obama-era educational standards due to federal mandate.

When asked by Yellowhammer News for comment regarding the issue, Sanford expanded on his case against Wardynski.

“I have been a vocal advocate and defender of our children, parent’s rights, and their education. I am severely disappointed that my opponent continues to lie to the voters of District 5 about his failed record,” proclaimed Sanford. “When I served as State Senator, I fought against the liberal education policies embedded in the Common Core curriculum for almost eight years. Meanwhile, the former Huntsville City School Superintendent said that even if Alabama outlawed Common Core, he was committed to ensuring the implementation of its curriculum and the radical liberal policies attached in our children’s schools by using the flexibility offered in the Accountability Act.”

He continued, “Furthermore, he joyfully accepted travel and money from Pearson Education, a liberal education group that has publicly supported and worked to implement Common Core nationwide, all while the organization was under contract with the Huntsville City School System. The former Huntsville Superintendent has proven time and time again that he is not a true Conservative and will intentionally mislead the people of North Alabama in an attempt to gain any type of support. That is not the kind of leadership we need in our Congressman, especially when we already have a rampant issue of deception and corruption in Washington D.C.”

In response to Sanford’s assertions, Wardynski campaign manager Chad Niblett defended the former superintendent’s tenure at the school district and touched on his career experiences.

“Casey improved graduation rates, turned a deficit into a surplus, and put Huntsville on the map with a national cyber center of excellence,” Niblett said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Casey Wardynski is the only candidate in this race who received President Trump’s highest blessing when Trump placed special trust and confidence in his ability to help lead at the Pentagon. At the Pentagon he removed critical race theory from West Point and helped implement President Trump’s America First Agenda.”

If no candidate earns a plurality of the vote in the primary election, the top two vote-getters will face off in a runoff election on June 21, 2022.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL