By: Mike Maharrey
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (May 22, 2019) – A bill introduced in the Alabama House would place an amendment to the state constitution to prohibit implementation of Common Core standards in the state.
Rep. James Hanes (R-Scottsburg) introduced House Bill 625 (HB625) on May 16. Passage of the bill would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to end Common Core. If passed by a majority of voters, the amendment would immediately terminate existing Common Core standards (known in Alabama as Alabama College and Career Ready Standards) and replace them with the curriculum standards in place before Common Core was implemented. The amendment would direct the State Board of Education to adopt new replacement curriculum standards to go into effect during the 2022-2023 school year.
A second bill (SB119) that would terminate Common Core through a change in statutory law passed the Alabama Senate in March and is pending in the House.
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. Initially, the DoE tied the grant of waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act to the adoption of Common Core, using the standards as powerful strings to influence state education policy. The Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress in 2015 prohibited 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.” ESSA gives more latitude to states and local school districts in determining standards, but the feds still maintain significant control over state education systems. States are required to submit their goals and standards, along with a detailed plan outlining how they plan to achieve them to the DoE for feedback and then approval.
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 independent based on their own criteria. 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 standards simply don’t benefit children. State and local governments should remain in full control of their own educational systems.
While the proposed amendment would technically end Common Core in New York, the process is not without potential pitfalls. As Shane Vander Hart at Truth in American Education said about a similar bill passed in Tennessee, legislatures often do little more than create “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 New York.
Simply providing the option to opt out of Common Core could undercut the program and force it to end if enough parents took advantage of it. We’ve seen a wide-spread Common Core opt-out movement evolve in several states, particularly New York with thousands of parents opting their kids out of associated standardized testing.
Rejecting nationalized education standards is the first step toward bringing true academic choice, and freedom. Passage of this legislation into law would take a positive step forward for the people of Alabama and a path for other states to follow.
HB625 was referred to the House Committee on Education Policy where it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.