AUGUSTA, Maine. (Jun. 26, 2017) – A Maine bill that would have withdrawn the state from the Common Core educational standards was killed by House Democrats earlier this month.

Rep. William Tuell (R-East Machias) introduced House Bill 1578 (LD1578) with five co-sponsors. The bill would have banned Common Core standards and replaced them with the educational standards that were in place in Massachusetts before the state enacted Common Core.

Massachusetts standards were ranked the highest in the country. LD1578 read, in part:

The Department of Education… shall… replace the current content standards in English language arts and mathematics… with new standards that are consistent with the standards in effect in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2009. The standards adopted under this section must be, as much as possible, identical to those adopted by Massachusetts, except when a Maine context requires otherwise. The content standards apply to the 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years.

Additionally, LD1578 contained provisions that would have prevented Common Core from being re-branded under a different name, which has happened in several other states. The bill read, in part:

An official, employee or agent of the State whether appointed or elected may not:

(1) Enter into any agreement or memorandum of understanding with any Federal Government agency or private entity that would require the State to abdicate any measure of control over the development, adoption or revision of the content standards in the system of learning results; or

(2) Join on behalf of the State or a state agency any consortium, association or other entity when such membership would require the State or a school board to concede any measure of control over education, including academic content standards and assessments of such standards; and

B. The department may not adopt or implement the content standards for English language arts and mathematics developed by the common core state standards initiative or any similar initiative process or program.

The Maine House voted LD1578 down on Jun. 9 by a 66-77 margin. The vote was highly partisan with every Republican who was not absent approving the bill, and every Democrat in attendance voting to kill the bill. Because the legislature is dominated by Democrats, the bill failed.

Maine residents will have to wait until the next legislative session before they have another chance to ban Common Core, and can return local control to their educational system.

BACKGROUND

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. LD1578 would have made substantial progress toward that goal. Unfortunately, Maine will have to wait until 2018 before the state can create independent standards that best represent the interests and needs of their students.