Tommy Bice Defends Common Core in Alabama

The Alabama Senate Education Committee plans on voting on SB190 today which would remove Alabama from the Common Core.  Yesterday, Dr. Tommy Bice, Alabama’s State Superintendent of Education, held  a press conference to defend Alabama’s “College and Career Ready Standards.”  It was a 35 minute long press conference including a Q&A time.  Bice said that he wanted to present the “facts” (read spin).

He said a resolution approved by the Alabama State Board of Education provided safeguards against Federal or outside (state partnerships) dictation of standard, curriculum, etc.  While that is fine and good, a resolution from the State School Board is no guarantee that there won’t be federal intrusion.  He was thankful that Alabama did not become a Race to the Top state, but said that Alabama “voluntarily” adopted the standards.

I’m not sure I’d brag about that.

Bice said that he wanted to assert that the Alabama State Board of Education was “the sole and exclusive entity” to address and implement standards.  It would seem he has the Alabama Legislature in mind when he said this as well.  He said he didn’t think that the Alabama Legislature really wants to get involved in addressing standards and that it would add 2-3 more steps to the process.

Perhaps to provide some accountability when the State Board of Education makes a poor decision?

Dr. Bice said that Alabama did not adopt the Common Core sight unseen – even though they entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governor’s Association before the final draft of the standards were released.

He said they held regional public forums, but based on a statement from an activist present during press conference that those were not well attended only 200 attended, and that they were held at regional service centers, not schools that would have closer to teachers and families.  He said the board vetted the standards getting input from teachers and education leaders (not parents).  I wonder how much expert testimony they listened to from both sides of the debate.

Then the final proof that they made the standards their own is that they were renamed “Alabama College and Career-Ready Standards.”  As if subbing out your previous math and ELA standards with the Common Core and renaming it really makes it your own.

He referred to a legal opinion they had done that said they their legal obligations in the earlier MOU has been fulfilled.  I’ve not heard this from any other state so I question the accuracy of this statement.  If the Alabama Department of Education provides a copy of that legal opinion I’ll post it.

He stated that Alabama is not part of the SBAC and PARCC assessment coalitions which is true.  He noted that the cost of implementing the standards has cost them less than their previous standards, about $100,000 less.  That is likely due to not being involved with SBAC or PARCC.  He said Alabama has entered a partnership with ACT to provide their assessments.  ACT has already announced alignment with the Common Core.

On data gathering, Dr. Bice said that they did not receive a statewide longitudinal data grant which is true.  He said they only will collect data of medical or educational value.

Joy Pullman writes that Dr. Bice’s claim isn’t entirely accurate that it will also examine a student’s motivation and behavior.

You can watch the press conference below:

Video streaming by Ustream

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