AUGUSTA, Maine (Apr. 14, 2016) – The Maine House failed to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would have removed the state from standardized testing related to Common Core. But efforts elsewhere show a path forward even despite the veto.
Rep. Will Tuell (R- East Machias) along with a bipartisan group of nine cosponsors introduced LD1492. The legislation would have voided the Common Core educational standards at the end of the 2016-2017 school year and created a framework to establish state standards to replace them.
The bill read, in part:
“By November 1, 2016, the Department of Education, with input from a stakeholder group established in accordance with this section, shall develop new statewide content standards for kindergarten to grade 12 in English language arts and mathematics for use beginning with the 2017-2018 school year that are distinct and independent from the standards previously adopted by the department pursuant to Public Law 2009, chapter 647.”
The bill was passed by a unanimous 142-0 vote in the House, and was passed in the Senate by another unanimous 34-0 vote. Despite the overwhelming support, LePage vetoed the measure.
“It seems prudent to leave the existing protocols in place rather than to add even more bureaucracy with a new layer of unnecessary, inflexible and unproven procedures,” he said in a veto statement advocating the preservation of the Common Core status quo.
That sent LD1492 back to the legislature for a possible veto override. Considering the overwhelming bipartisan support the bill received in the legislature, an override seemed likely. Gov LePage even addressed the possibility in his veto statement saying, “By voting to sustain this veto, you will allow a successful review process to continue, and we can instead focus our efforts on the work of the Blue Ribbon Commission to Reform Public Education Funding and Improve Student Performance in Maine… I strongly urge the legislature to sustain [my veto].”
The House paid no heed to Gov. LePage’s plea,voting 145-1 to override his veto. Unfortunately, the Senate caved and voted to sustain Gov. LePage’s veto by a 23-12 margin. At this point, LD1492 was officially killed and with it any chance for the state legislature to stop Common Core during the 2016 legislative session.
Although Maine parents will not have any legislative cooperation in fighting back against Common Core this year, there are still actions they can take.
THE PATH FORWARD
When a state is unwilling to take action against federal overreach, the principles of resistance can extend right down to the individual level. There are other states that serve as effective case studies for this sort of resistance to the Common Core educational standards.
New York serves as a shining example of the effectiveness that an individual opt-out campaign can have against the Common Core testing programs. Grassroots activists started a movement that spread across the entire state and sent a powerful message against Fed Ed. A USA Today report from last year chronicled the success of their effort:
Some school officials voluntarily reported their figures on Tuesday; others declined, saying the numbers should first be reported to their boards of education; others did not respond at all. Those who responded were responsible for nearly 44,000 students, nearly 10,000 of whom declined to take the test, at a rate of 24 percent.
New York parents were so successful that even teachers have joined in on the resistance. An Apr. 4 New York Post report reads:
Some parents at PS 8 in Brooklyn Heights received emails directly from teachers telling them that their kids can skip the exams without punishment.
“It’s your right to opt out of the NY State Tests. . . . Alternative educational activities are planned for all students opting out,” one email sent by a third grade PS 8 teacher said…
And a fourth grade teacher forwarded an attachment about opting out, claiming it came at the request of assistant principal Robert Mikos, a copy obtained by The Post reveals.
Although state legislators may lack the desire or courage to end participation in Common Core, the public still has options. James Madison advised Americans in Federalist #46 to engage in a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” as the means to fight back against government overreach, and said that such actions in multiple states would be effective in bringing down federal programs.
That timeless principle must be taken all the way down to the individual level in Maine to fight back against Common Core. That way, pronouncements from Gov. LePage will be rendered moot and Maine parents can regain some control over education – whether he or the craven Senate approves or not!