LANSING, Mich. (Apr. 27, 2016) – Yesterday, an important Michigan Senate committee passed a bill to withdraw the state from Common Core standards after compelling testimony by a 7-year-old boy. Passage of the legislation would take an important step toward nullifying nationalized education in the state.

Cody Prested

Senate Bill 826 (SB826) was introduced on Mar. 1 by Sen. Patrick Colbeck and six co-sponsors. The legislation would void Common Core standards and create a framework to establish new state standards to replace them.

The bill passed in the Senate Education Committee by a 4-1 vote on Apr. 26. It will now move on to the full Senate for further consideration.

COMMITTEE HEARING DETAILS

Michigan residents come to Lansing from across the state to attend the early-morning Senate Education Committee hearing on SB826, packing out the room. Several children came with their parents to share their personal experiences with the Common Core standards. Only one child was given time to offer testimony. Cody Prested, 7, spoke alongside his mother about the Common Core testing regime, He said its so-called ‘rigor’ has confounded him and made him lose faith in his ability to complete his studies.

“When I took the test, I was very frustrated not knowing if I answered the questions correct.” Cody said during his testimony. “It even asked me questions I have not learned in school yet. That scared me because I didn’t know if I was going to pass the test… These are feelings I should not have in school!”

Shortly after Cody testified, the Senate Education Committee approved the bill.

During the hearing, Sen. Marty Knollenberg said he would approve the bill on the condition that he could propose certain amendments while the bill was on the floor. Sen. David Knezek made disparaging comments about Common Core opposition, and recorded the sole no vote. His proposed amendment to increase school funding was rejected as well. Sen. Colbeck, the bill’s sponsor, along with Sen. Darwin Booher and Sen. Phil Pavlov, voted in favor of SB826 as well.

michigan common core hearingEFFECT OF THE BILL

SB826, along with its companion legislation HB5444 in the House, would replace the defunct Common Core standards with tested educational standards that once yielded favorable academic performances from students in the state of Massachusetts. This would make it harder for Common Core advocates to re-brand the standards under a new euphemism. It reads, as follows:

Within 90 days after the effective date of this section, [the state shall] adopt and implement state academic content standards for each of grades kindergarten to 12 in english language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. The state academic content standards shall be the same as the academic standards in effect in Massachusetts during the 2008-2009 school year, except that any reference in those standards to “Massachusetts” shall be changed in all appropriate instances to a reference to “Michigan” and any state history or government content standards shall be changed to reflect the history and government of this state. Within 10 days after the state academic content standards are adopted, the department shall distribute the standards to all public schools in this state and make the standards available to the public on the department website.

The legislation also contains provisions that protect the personally identifiable information of students from being collected and shared by state employees. It reads as follows:

[The state] shall not collect any of the following:
(i) data about the values, attitudes, beliefs, and personality traits of a pupil or a pupil’s family.
(ii) medical, behavioral, mental, biometric, or psychometric data of a pupil or a pupil’s family.

While SB826 is a powerful step toward permanently ending Common Core in Michigan, 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 Michigan.

HISTORY

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 would represent a positive step forward for the people of Michigan and a path for other states to follow.

ACTION ITEMS

If you live in Michigan: click HERE and follow the instructions to help repeal Common Core.

If you live in another state: click HERE for information on Common Core initiatives in your state.


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