MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Feb. 22, 2015) – A bill introduced in the Alabama House would withdraw the state from Common Core standards, an important step toward nullifying nationalized education in the state.
House Bill 264 (HB264) was introduced on Feb. 18 by Rep. Bob Fincher (R-Rocky Branch) and 19 co-sponsors. The legislation would void Common Core standards and replace them with the standards that were used before they were implemented. It reads, in part:
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 that 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, 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.
From there, HB264 would create a committee that would be in charge of the development of new independent standards. It reads as follows:
There is created the Alabama Excellence Standards Commission, to be comprised of internationally recognized experts of curriculum standards who have not advocated the Common Core Standards. Members of the commission shall be jointly appointed by the Chair of the Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee and the Chair of the House Education Policy Committee. Members of the commission shall be available throughout the process by which the Transition Standards are revised into new curriculum standards… and shall produce a report reviewing the final draft of the Alabama Ahead Standards. At least 30 days prior to action by the State Board of Education to adopt the Alabama Ahead Standards, the report shall be provided to the Chair of the Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee and the Chair of the House Education Policy Committee and shall be made available to the public.
HB264 also contains provisions that would ban the re-implementation of Common Core as well as the state of Alabama from entering into any sort of partnership that would grant control over education to an outside entity. It reads as follows:
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…
The state shall retain sole control over the development, establishment, and revision of K-12 course of study standards… No education entity or any state official shall 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.
While a powerful step toward permanently ending Common Core in Alabama, the process it not without its potential pitfalls. As Shane Vander Hart at Truth in American Education said about a similar bill passed in Tennessee last year, many Common Core replacement bills end up being little more than “rebranded” versions of the same program. Even if the new state standards completely reject Common Core, it doesn’t mean the state won’t continue to allow the federal government to influence its education system. It will require public and legislative vigilance to completely push the feds out of education in Alabama.
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.” But under the new federal law, states still must comply with College and Career Ready Standards, based on Common Core, as a condition for receiving some federal dollars. It also requires the federal education secretary to approve each state’s plans for standards and assessments.
Even with the federal strings partially 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. Passage of this legislation into law represents a positive step forward for the people of Alabama and a path for other states to follow.
HB264 must pass the House Education Policy Committee before the legislation can receive a vote in the full House