Common Core Rejected by States
In June, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation that permanently halts the use of Common Core standards, requires the state to temporarily use previous standards, and directs that new standards to be developed will be subject to legislative review. The legislation she signed was overwhelmingly passed in the state’s House and Senate on the final day of the 2014 legislative session. Gov. Fallin’s action is particularly relevant because she previously supported Common Core and is the Chair of the National Governors Association, one of the two private lobbying organizations at the center of the effort to create Common Core.
Common Core (CC) standards were hastily created in closed meetings and subject to no legislative or public review. Parents, teachers, and citizens must be part of the effort to create improved standards. Fallin said, “We are very capable as Oklahomans of developing our own Oklahoma standards to make sure that our children receive the highest quality education possible in our state.” Fallin called Common Core “tainted” and “divisive.” She admitted that the state may lose some money because the Obama administration ties federal funding to certain Common Core criteria.
State Superintendent of Education Janet Barresi, a former Common Core proponent, praised the repeal, saying that due to entanglement with the federal government, “Common Core has become too difficult and inflexible.”
The CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce criticized the legislators and the governor for ditching CC, accusing them of “bending to political hysteria.” (AP, 6-6-14) The National Chamber of Commerce has received millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation to promote Common Core.
South Carolina Reviews Common Core
On May 30, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a law that will allow the state to review Common Core, but the standards remain in place for the 2014-15 school year; any changes will be implemented the following year. Critics worry that South Carolina won’t get rid of enough of what is wrong with Common Core.
The South Carolina General Assembly must approve any future standards that are not created by the state Dept. of Education, which may guard against a rewrite of Common Core. The state has also withdrawn from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), one of two federally financed standardized testing organizations.
Since the state legislature failed to overturn the use of Common Core in Louisiana schools, Gov. Bobby Jindal is trying to do it on his own. He has called on the state Board of Education to create “Louisiana standards and a Louisiana test.” Jindal says use of CC aligned tests supplied by the federally supported Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is illegal because their use was not put out for bid as required by state law. But state education officials have no intention of creating new standards and have vowed to keep CC standards and testing; they question the governor’s authority to put a halt to CC in Louisiana.
How States Can Make Changes
Announcing she signed the bill to halt Common Core in Oklahoma, Gov. Fallin stated: “We cannot ignore the widespread concerns of citizens, parents, educators, and legislators who have expressed fear that adopting Common Core gives up local control of Oklahoma’s public schools.” (Washington Post, 6-5-14) But those concerns are being ignored in the majority of states. Legislative attempts to halt Common Core have failed in several states. Although Indiana dropped Common Core, the revised standards developed closely follow the rejected standards.
A survey conducted by the Times Union and Siena College found that 82% of New Yorkers want to stop Common Core in their state. Yet, citizens seem powerless to halt it because their government is unresponsive and New York Commissioner of Education John King is unwilling to even consider their concerns.
Amidst seemingly insurmountable obstacles, there is hope for success. Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who was the chief developer of Massachusetts’ excellent standards, has outlined ways that Common Core can be dumped by localities, with or without the support of state government. Her complete suggestions are available in her article “Legislative Common Core Remedy No Panacea,” posted at the Pioneer Institute website (5-28-14).
Stotsky was a member of the Common Core validation committee and refused to sign off on the standards, which she deems to be seriously flawed. She is also a former member of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.
Dr. Stotsky offers two plans. One can be used when legislators refuse to act by offering localities the means to replace Common Core. The second plan will work for states where there is legislative support to do away with Common Core. In that case the state legislature would “develop and pass a bill to eliminate the state board and department of education.” In both cases, new and improved standards would follow.
To develop new English Language Arts standards, Stotsky suggests states or localities use as blueprints either the pre-Common Core California standards or her own ELA standards that are based on the former, excellent Massachusetts ELA standards (that were dropped in favor of Common Core). Stotsky recommends new math standards should be chosen in consultation with high school mathematics teachers and based on the standards of either Minnesota, California 1997, Indiana 2006, or Massachusetts 2000. (Minnesota never adopted CC math standards, although they accepted those for ELA).
Refusal to administer any Common Core-aligned state tests, like SBAC and PARCC, on the grounds that they are incompatible with locally adopted standards, is a critical component of Stotsky’s proposals. She claims that state or federal money can’t be withheld “because there is no state statute in any state requiring local districts to take tests that are incompatible with locally adopted, official standards and curriculum.”
Stotsky says that even when states reject the federally supported national standards, “it is crucial for local school boards to also vote to eliminate Common Core’s standards and any curriculum developed to address them.” She maintains that “this will prevent the imposition of a federally imposed Common Core-aligned test at the local level — another possible end-run around state legislatures.”
Sandra Stotsky’s plan offers hope that more states and localities can replace the controversial and flawed Common Core with new standards that are as good as schoolchildren deserve.