MONTGOMERY, Ala. (May 30, 2017) – Republican leadership in the Alabama state Senate recently killed a bill that would have ended the use of Common Core in the state’s schools. That means federally-driven educational standards will remain in place in the Heart of Dixie.
Sen. Harri Anne Smith (I-Slocomb) introduced Senate Bill 415 (SB415) on May 5. The legislation would have voided Common Core standards and created a framework to establish state standards to replace them.
The State of Alabama hereby terminates all plans, programs, activities, efforts, and expenditures relative to the implementation of the educational initiative commonly referred to as the Common Core State Standards, or any derivative or permutation thereof, including, but not limited to, the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards which have been adopted or may be adopted by the board or its employees, including any assessments, data collection, and instructions based on or involving any such standard or protocol…
As part of the transition to an improved Alabama standards process, the board shall replace the current Common Core Standards, also known as the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, with the courses of study for Math in place until May 2011, and for English Language Arts in place until May 2012, both of which were used in classrooms immediately prior to implementation of the Common Core Standards. These standards shall be known as the Transition Standards and shall remain in effect for the 2016-2017 school year.
The Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee passed SB415 on May 11 by a 4-1 vote. However, that is as far as the bill advanced. Republican leadership in the Senate never brought it up for a vote in the full chamber. With Republicans outnumbering Democrats in the Senate by an overwhelming 26-8 margin, it is undeniable that Republicans bear the responsibility for preserving former President Obama’s signature educational program in Common Core.
Furthermore, SB415 contained important provisions that would have prevented Common Core from being re-branded under a new name, something has happened in several other states.
The Legislature further prohibits the adoption or implementation of any national standards from any source, or the use of any assessments aligned with them, that cede control of Alabama educational standards in any manner, including, but not limited to, the Next Generation Science Standards, History Standards, Social Studies Standards, or Sexuality Standards…
Any education entity or any state official shall not join any consortium or any other organization when participation in that consortium or organization would cede any measure of control over any aspect of Alabama public education to any such entity.
With the legislative session now concluded for the year, the death of SB415 means that Common Core will continue to be the reality for Alabama students until at least 2018.
Common Core was intended to create nationwide education standards. While touted as a state initiative through the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the U.S. Department of Education was heavily involved behind the scenes. Up until recently, the DoE tied the grant of waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act to adoption of Common Core, using the standards as powerful strings to influence state educational policy. The Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress this month now prohibits the DoE from attempting to “influence, incentivize, or coerce State adoption of the Common Core State Standards … or any other academic standards common to a significant number of States.”
Even with the federal strings cut from Common Core for the time being, it is still imperative for each state to adopt its own standards. The feds can once again use these national standards to meddle in state education at any time if they remain in place. Just as importantly, one-size-fits-all standard simply don’t benefit children. State and local governments should remain in full control of their own educational systems.
Rejecting nationalized education standards is the first step toward bringing true academic choice and freedom. SB415 would have made substantial progress toward that goal. Unfortunately, Alabama will have to wait until 2018 before the state can create independent standards that best represent the interests and needs of their students.