Proposal to repeal Common Core moves forward

Published 4:24 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2019

On Tuesday, Alabama Senate Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, introduced a bill that would repeal Common Core Standards in the state and replace them with the curriculum used immediately prior to implementation of the new standards.

Common Core Standards, also known as College and Career Readiness Standards, are national guidelines related to English and mathematics courses for students, grades K-12, which began to be implemented in Alabama in 2011.

In a Twitter post announcing his plan to file the bill, Marsh said that Alabama is ranked 49th in math and 46th in reading nationally.

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“We can’t keep going in that direction,” Marsh said in the video. “So today I will introduce this bill and ask my colleagues to support it so we can eliminate Common Core and start a new direction for education in the state of Alabama.”

Along with repealing the standards and mandating that school systems across the state revert back to teaching standards used prior to 2011, Marsh’s bill 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.”

Further, the bill prevents educational entities and state officials from joining any organization that would cede “any measure of control over any aspect of Alabama public education.”

After being taken up by the Senate Tuesday, the bill was forwarded to the Senate Committee on Education Policy where it was given a thumbs-up and sent back to the full Senate for debate.

The bill could go before the full chamber as early as Thursday.

Alabama Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier, D-Selma, is concerned with the bill on multiple fronts.

After speaking with educators, Sanders-Fortier said the state had implemented the national standards but continues to tailor them to the needs of Alabama students, indicating that the standards are not as rigid as some assert.

Further, Selma’s senator is concerned that the repeal might adversely impact military families.

“Military families need it so their children can have some consistency in their standards when they move from place to place, as military families often do as they serve our country,” Sanders-Fortier said. “I don’t know who would have a problem with that, especially since Alabama builds on its Common Core for the needs of Alabamians.”

A statement issued by Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey says the proposal could “produce a host of unintended consequences.”

“Changing teaching standards requires a lot of expert work by dedicated education professionals,” Mackey said. “It will not happen overnight.”

According to Mackey, the ALSDE has been working for months on changes to the state’s reading and math curriculum, as well as new assessment practices.

Further, Mackey says earlier curriculum standards were only published in print form and would have to be digitized and a vast number of teachers and administrators have cycled out, meaning that new assessments would have to be developed that adhere to older standards.

Additionally, Mackey said it would be “very expensive” to acquire new books, professional development and instructional resources.

Mackey also has concerns that prohibiting educators from being involved with national organizations, which could impact board certification, coding and computer science standards and more.

“We already have a plan to roll new assessments out in 2020, they are going to be the best in the nation,” Mackey said. “If we go back to standards that are 20 years old, we will have to do a change order in the testing. That could be several million more dollars. Adhering to the bill as it is written could have negative repercussions on all of these areas.”

An ALSDE document related to Common Core ahead of its implementation in Alabama states that the standards are “a set of consistent, high-quality academic benchmarks that clearly define the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each school year.”

“The standards are a common sense first step toward ensuring our children obtain the best possible education no matter where they live,” the document states. “With clear academic expectations for each grade level, teachers, parents and students can work together toward shared goals.”

Neither Selma City Schools Superintendent Dr. Avis Williams or Dallas County Schools Superintendent Hattie Shelton responded to multiple requests for comment.