Who’s Telling the Truth About Alabama’s Constitutional Amendment One?

As a former member of the Alabama State School Board (2003-2019), I would like to share my concerns about the ballot language for Amendment One.  When voters get a ballot on March 3, this is all that is printed in the ballot summary about  Amendment One: 


“Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to change the name of the State Board of Education to the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education; to provide for the appointment of members of the Commission by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate; and to authorize the Governor to appoint a team of local educators and other officials to advise the commission on matters relating to the functioning and duties of the State Department of Education (Proposed by  Act 2019-345.)”

This brief summary is misleading and totally unacceptable. This is the political equivalent of “bait and switch.”  Totally missing from the ballot is the very important content of SB 397  in Section 5 beginning at the bottom of page 4 and continuing on to page 5 mandating  the new commission (which replaces the current state school board) to adopt five things.  The first is “Course of study standards that ensure nationwide consistency and the seamless transfer of students from within and outside the state in lieu of common core.”  The ballot summary for March 3 does not include any mention of standards.

Last December before the summary for the ballot was available,  a legislator contacted the Legislative Services Agency Legal Division to confirm what the ballot language would be.  He was given this information: “If the Amendment passes, the (new governor-appointed) commission will have to develop new standards which “ensure nation-wide consistency and the seamless transfer of students.” 

A representative of the AL State Department of Education said they were are not aware of any other nationally recognized standards for math and English Language Arts other than the Common Core Standards. Unfortunately voters would not have any way of knowing this since it’s not included on the ballot.

Any assertion that Amendment One will free Alabama of the much-detested Common Core State Standards aka College & Career Ready Standards is false.  Voters who rely solely on the ballot summary will not realize that the Common Core standards will be permanently written into the Alabama constitution.  We would have to pass another constitutional amendment to ever get rid of them.  Although the  Secretary of State’s office was asked to add necessary information from the bill onto the ballot for clarity,  this was not done.

On Monday several organizations including the Alabama Farmers’ Federation (ALFA) , Forestry, Manufacture Alabama, the Alabama Realtors Association and perhaps others began running hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of ads endorsing Amendment One.  The ads complain about our low test scores and how elected board members are too political. Apparently the Amendment One proponents think having a state school board made up of members who all were appointed by one person will not be “political.”

For those too young to remember or who have forgotten, many years ago the Alabama State School Board was an appointed board.  However, it was changed to an elected one because the appointed board was not doing a good job.  Right before the Common Core standards were implemented, former state school superintendent Joe Morton spoke frequently about how students’ scores had increased, moving Alabama up to the middle range of states.  Then after a few years of using Common Core standards and assessments, our students’ scores plummeted to the bottom in math and close to the bottom in reading.  I  remember student progress declined all across America both in states with appointed state school boards as well as those with elected boards after the Common Core State Standards were implemented nationwide.  If we are serious about improving learning, we need to start by actually replacing the much-hates Common Core aka College and Career-ready Standards with some that are more traditional and have been proven to work .  Perhaps returning to the ones we were using immediately before Common Core would be a good start–at least when we were using them, our students’ performance was going in the right direction. 

I  know I’m not the only person who thinks there has been some legislative chicanery going on with this amendment.  If the legislature and governor are so proud of it, why are they hiding so much of it, especially the information about Common Core, from the voters on election day, and why would it take so much media time to convince voters that it’s a good idea.
Link to the actual bill language which is not available on the sample ballot:  https://legiscan.com/AL/text/SB397/id/2049734/Alabama-2019-SB397-Enrolled.pdf

Alabama State Senator Proposes to Replace Elected State School Board

Photo credit: Jim Bowen (CC-By-2.0)

A bill to be considered in 2018 may be well-intentioned after the debacle with how the Alabama State Board of Education handled Micheal Sentance’s tenure as State Superintendent of Education, but replacing an elected state school board with an appointed “board of counsel” is a colossally bad idea.

That is what Alabama State Senator Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) proposes to do next legislative session (I’m not sure of his motivation in writing the bill not that it would affect my opinion of it). Truth in American Education was provided a draft of a bill, SB 25, he sponsored that will be considered in the Alabama Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee.

Here’s what the bill does:

  • Replaces the State Board of Education that consists of the Governor and eight elected members with an appointed 13 member Board of Counsel.
  • The Governor would no longer be an ex-officio member of the board.
  • The Board of Counsel members would be appointed by the appointed Director of Education who is appointed by the Governor and with the advice and consent of the Alabama Senate.
  • The Director of Education would replace the State Superintendent of Education position that was filled by the State Board of Education. This post would be a cabinet position, and the person would serve at the pleasure of the Governor.

If you want to guarantee that the Alabama Department of Education is never responsive to parents and grassroots activists, then this is the route to go. This move would ensure that the state keeps Common Core.

Right now those who oppose Common Core have had few allies on Alabama’s State Board of Education. In fact, Betty Peters who represents District 2, one of the members out of 2-3 who has opposed Common Core, is not running for reelection (her term is up in 2019) (Edited: I originally said that Betty was the only member who consistently opposed Common Core, but I was informed that there are at least two others who also oppose Common Core. I apologize for my error.) Hopefully, a strong Common Core opponent will follow her.

An elected board is closer to the people. This bill, if passed, only helps educrats.

Michael Sentance Out as Alabama’s State School Chief

Alabama State Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance at his teachers’ cabinet.

Alabama’s State Superintendent of Education, Michael Sentance, resigned on Wednesday effective immediately. Sentance was at the job for one year.

“I am humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to serve as state superintendent in Alabama,” Sentance said in a released statement from the Alabama Department of Education. “There are many good things happening in public education in this state. My hope is that Alabama makes educating all children the state’s highest priority, allowing the state to make significant educational gains and truly becoming the jewel of the south that it has the ability to become.”

Resign is such a nice word, but he was on the verge of being forced out which is a shame as he was open to jettisoning Common Core.

Quinn Hillyer wrote that Alabama’s State Board of Education, whose members are elected, planned to consider firing him at today’s scheduled meeting. Apparently, discussion about firing him began several months ago and the concerns leveled at him by board members pining to out Sentance appear unfounded.

What’s the problem? It seems the problem is the fact he wanted to bring some change to the department. Can’t have that. He appears to have inherited a mess, and worked to clean it up.

Hillyer wrote:

Sentance has outlined an inspirational agenda and set of goals for the state’s schools and students. But in doing so, he has roiled the waters of the existing Alabama educational power structure — you know, that same power structure that has put Alabama near dead last in every measure of educational attainment. The state school unions — the worst in the country — are against him, because he has upset their apple cart. A good rule of thumb is if Alabama’s existing educrats are against somebody, he must be pretty good.

He added:

If you as a board member hire somebody from out of state, bring him in, and ask him to do a job, then you should be helping him to navigate unfamiliar territory, offering to ease his transition, and working extra hard to give him the tools and space he needs to succeed. I challenge the current board members — other than Mary Scott Hunter and Betty Peters, who want to keep him on the job — to show more than a pittance of examples of them actually doing any of this. (Whatever happened to southern hospitality? Whatever happened to Southern manners? And whatever happened to basic, business-like common sense?)

Sentance, prior to coming to Alabama, served as the Secretary of Education in Massachusetts and as the Senior Education Advisor to Massachusetts Governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci. You know, Massachusetts who during his time as Secretary of Education implemented an education reform package that made the state a leader in K-12 education.

You can’t get there without rocking the boat.

Alabama State Board of Education To Address Common Core

Alabama State Department of Education Headquarters

The Alabama State Board of Education will consider a draft resolution that would rescind the Common Core State Standards (called the Alabama College and Career-Readiness Standards) by August 1, 2018 during their work session on Thursday.

The Times Daily reports:

During several recent meetings, at least one board member has asked for a discussion on repealing the Alabama College and Career Readiness Standards. Other members have questions about a draft resolution.

Board member Betty Peters, R-Dothan, for years has been an opponent of the standards. She wants a repeal and change to make state education standards “what we want them to be.”

“Whatever we the people in Alabama want, we don’t have to have them hooked up to some national template,” Peters said. “We actually know a lot more about Common Core standards than we did before (they were adopted) and we can learn from that.”

The draft resolution criticizes student performance on national tests, citing fewer students are now taking high-level math courses.

The resolution notes the standards will be rescinded Aug. 1, 2018, and the state superintendent is directed to create a plan to develop new standards by the board’s November meeting.

The Board meets Thursday at 10:00 am (CDT) and you can watch online here.

Alabamians Ask; Trump Administration Enables State Control of Assessments

Alabama State Department of Education Headquarters

Alabama Superintendent Sentance sent a letter June 1, 2017, to Acting Deputy Jason Botel of the United States Department of Education (USDE) on behalf of Alabama State Board of Education that requested to substitute other assessments for Aspire.  Superintendent Sentance also had a phone conversation with Mr. Botel and other officials from the USDE. The request was denied by USDE. Sentance then told the Alabama State Board of Education in regard to the waiver, “It was pretty clear right from the start the answer was going to be no.” The Alabama State Board of Education requested that Sentance make a more formal request from the USDE. Meanwhile, Stephanie Bell and other Board members appealed to Washington officials.

That’s when Alabamians began showing their support for the State Board’s position. On June 14, Eagle Forum in a memo to the Alabama Congressional delegation wrote:

 “….we need our Congressional delegation to intervene right away.  The State Board is facing a July 1 deadline to non-renew Aspire …Because Aspire claims to be aligned with Alabama College and Career Ready (Common Core) Standards, the continued use of Aspire will lock Alabama into the failing common core system that has resulted, for example, in our NAEP scores dropping from 25th and to dead last…”

This message went to key White House and USDE staffers as well as to influential Alabama constituents. On that same day, Congressman Brooks responded and immediately sent a letter to the USDE requesting that Alabama be granted flexibility in its choices in regards to assessments. And on June 15, Betty Peters published her article: “What Do the Feds Expect Us to Do Without ESSA Waiver?” The Alabama Congressional delegation was working toward releasing a joint letter to USDE officials the word came on June 19 that USDE would be allowing the waiver.

Subsequently, the Alabama State Board of Education voted unanimously on June 21, 2017, not to renew the contract with Aspire. No replacement assessment was confirmed by the Alabama State Board of Education.  Eagle Forum will continue at every opportunity to push for the restoration of local control and academic excellence in education.

Other states will want to follow Alabama’s example and pursue their own course under an administration that in Alabama’s case showed respect for local and state control of education.

Eunie Smith is the President of Eagle Forum and Deborah Love is the Executive Director of the Eagle Forum of Alabama.

What Do the Feds Expect Us To Do Without the ESSA Waiver?

Alabama State Department of Education Headquarters

As a member of the Alabama State Board of Education, the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 gave me hope that the state could finally chart its own course in education and repair the damage done by heavy-handed federal mandates on Alabama students’ learning.

One of the mandates that came from the pre-ESSA No Child Left Behind statute allowed the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to micro-manage our student assessment system. After four years of problems administering the ACT Aspire tests to students in grades three through eight and once again in grade ten, our education officials saw ESSA as an opportunity to develop a new test that would better serve students. As Alabama Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance recently told local news outlets, the ACT Aspire test “gives very little information back to schools about what is actually being tested. They don’t release test questions; that doesn’t help teachers understand what’s being asked of them as a result.”

According to a letter sent to Superintendent Sentance at the beginning of the year, it appeared that USED agreed that using the ACT Aspire was problematic. In fact, after an extensive peer review of the test, USED had concluded that the state’s use of ACT Aspire may not satisfy federal requirements, and placed a condition on the state’s receipt of $247 million in Title 1 funding: “External peer reviews and Department staff peer reviewers and Department staff evaluated Alabama’s submission of evidence about ACT Aspire and found, based on the evidence received, that the components of your assessment system meet some, but not all, of the statutory and regulatory requirements of [ESSA].”

In light of the many problems with the test—problems recognized by USED—Alabama teachers, state board members, and Superintendent Sentance reached a consensus that the contract with ACT should be ended and a better test developed. The problem we face is that a new test takes a year or more to develop and wouldn’t be available for students to take during the 2017-2018 school year to satisfy federal testing requirements. Sentance has asked USED to grant the state a waiver to administer interim assessments instead of the ACT Aspire next year while a new assessment is being developed.

It seems like a simple common sense request. After all, both USED and state officials have recognized Aspire is problematic. Yet after a conversation with Acting U. S. Deputy Jason Botel, Sentance reported to the AL state board of education that it didn’t seem likely USED would approve the waiver, stating, “It was pretty clear right from the start that the answer was going to be “no.”

ESSA’s supporters insisted that the bill restored control over education to the states. “With this bill,” Speaker Paul Ryan promised, “We are sending power back to the people.” ESSA author Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) exhorted state officials to test the boundaries of what they can do under ESSA. According to Education Week, Alexander told them to “assume you can do as you please, and if the U. S. Department of Education shoots down your ideas without a clear rationale, don’t take it lying down.” In fact, Alexander advised them to consider legal actions: “You can take the department to court, and I hope that you do.”

Candidate Trump ran on the issue of local control and as President has directed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to restore it. She has PROMISED to do so: “Let us continue to move power away from Washington, D.C. and into the hands of parents and state and local leaders.” Thanks to the State of Alabama, DeVos now has the opportunity to carry through on all these commitments. Either ESSA restores local control or it doesn’t. Let’s find out.

One wonders what’s really going on here. Is USED afraid that if Alabama is allowed to choose its own assessment, it might stray too far from the federal corral not only on testing but on curriculum, standards and maybe other matters down the road? Does ESSA maintain the federal padlock on the gate? Parents and other grassroots citizens warned repeatedly during consideration of ESSA that it continued the “Mother may I” approach to education policy. Were they right?

What does the USED want Alabama to do? We could be penalized for administering the Aspire test and, without a waiver, we could be penalized for replacing it with another test—“damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”

Alabama Is an Example that Local Control Under ESSA Is a Sham

Photo credit: Jim Bowen (CC-By-2.0)

Tricia Powell Crain with AL.com reported last week that the Alabama State Board of Education learned at their last meeting that the U.S. Department of Education denied the state’s request to dump ACT Aspire and use interim tests next spring.

She wrote:

The U.S. Department of Education rejected Alabama superintendent Michael Sentance’s request to use different tests next spring.

Sentance and board members have expressed their dislike for the ACT Aspire in recent months and need the waiver in order to keep from having to renew the ACT Aspire contract for another year. The board must either renew or cancel the contract with ACT Aspire by July 1.

Sentance told board members he and other state education staffers held a phone conference last week with Acting Assistant Secretary of Education, Jason Botel, and other federal education officials to ask for permission to stop using the ACT Aspire.

Instead, Sentance wanted to use a series of interim tests, given throughout the 2017-2018 school year, to measure student progress and growth while Alabama decided on a new annual test to use for federal accountability.

Telling board members the phone call was “pretty unsatisfactory,” Sentance said, “It was pretty clear right from the start that the answer was going to be no.”

Alyson Klein at Education Week reports that the U.S. Department of Education has not made their final decision:

The U.S. Department of Education however, has a different take: They haven’t given their final answer yet.

“We have received Alabama’s formal waiver request and it is being assessed,” said Liz Hill, a spokeswoman.

So we are to believe Superintendant Sentance just misunderstood? It had to be pretty clear what the decision was going to be if he told the board members they said no.

Also, this is what the Trump administration considers local control? This is EXACTLY the type of authority that the Every Student Succeeds Act gave the Secretary of Education, and this power is something Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said was appropriate for the federal government.

Klein also pointed out:

It’s not a total surprise though, that the conversation may not have gone as Alabama hoped. The Every Student Succeeds Act does indeed allow states to use a series of interim—assessment-speak for short-term—tests instead of one big overall exam for accountability purposes.

But these interim tests must meet certain quality requirements, ESSA says. For instance, the onus is on the state to show that the interim tests do indeed provide the same information as a single summative score. And the tests are supposed to go through the department’s rigorous peer review process. It would be a big deal for DeVos to waive those requirements.

And it’s not clear that the interim tests Alabama was asking to use met the law’s standards. (We’ve put out a call to the Alabama Department of Education and will update if we hear back.)

We do know, however, that ACT Aspire didn’t quite meet the federal department’s requirements for tests that are rigorous and reflect state academic standards. The department said so in a recent peer-review letter.

The Trump administration has a big decision here. They can give lip service to local control, or they actually can respect it and allow Alabama to proceed.

Alabama Workforce-Data Bills Threaten Student, Family Privacy

Photo credit: Jim Bowen (CC-By-2.0)

What with manipulation of currency and theft of jobs, China is held in fairly low repute, especially down South. But some Alabama legislators seem enamored of at least one part of the Chinese system – the one that compiles enormous amounts of data on citizens, beginning when they’re toddlers and continuing through their careers, and swaps this data back and forth among various government agencies for government purposes. One might expect this kind of dangerous nonsense from, say, California, but . . . Alabama?

Parents and citizens are alarmed at two companion bills (SB 153 and HB  97) currently moving through the legislature to create a massive centralized warehouse of education and workforce data. This system would be called ANSWERS, or the Alabama Network of Statewide Workforce and Education-Related Statistics, which would be administered by a new Department of Labor bureaucracy called the Office of Education and Workforce Statistics (the “Office”).

The reach of ANSWERS would be sweeping. Operated by the Office, the system would combine education data (beginning in pre-K) and workforce data to provide information on the effectiveness of educational and workforce-training programs, and to assess “the availability of a skilled workforce to address current and future demands of business and industry.” (The bills don’t explain how the government can predict the “future demands of business and industry”; the Soviet Union tried it, but without much success.) The data could then be analyzed for whatever purposes the bureaucrats come up with, and used for “research” which, if history is any guide, will be ignored if it doesn’t support what the bureaucrats want to do.

How would this work? An Advisory Board would be established to identify the types of data that certain listed governmental entities would have to dump into the centralized warehouse. The statutory (and non-exclusive) list of such data sources includes all education agencies in the state, from pre-school through four-year universities – plus the Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Veterans’ Affairs. So these billions of data points on practically all Alabama citizens would be centralized into one repository to be sifted and shifted by central planners.

But surely the Advisory Board will be constructed so as to protect the interests of children and their parents. Not exactly. Of the 24 members, 22 must be either politicians, bureaucrats, or representatives of specific entities such as higher-education systems. One must represent private industry and know something about data-security (the bills’ only nod to security concerns), and the last shall be a lonely “representative of the public” (not necessarily a parent). The fix, ladies and gentlemen, is in.

The privacy concerns with ANSWERS are staggering. For one thing, although certain proponents have suggested the data would all be de-identified, the bills clearly contemplate the presence of personally identifiable data (by requiring “security clearance . . . for individuals with access to personally identifiable data”). Indeed, the bills specify that the Office would be considered an “authorized representative” under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and the only point of such a designation is to be entitled to receive students’ personally identifiable without parental consent or even notification.

Even if all data were to be de-identified, data can be frequently re-identified – especially when there are hundreds of data points on each individual to enable data-matching. And the bills even specify that the Office is to “link educational, workforce, and workforce training data from multiple sources through quality matching.” In such a vast repository, anonymization will be difficult if not impossible.

No more comforting is the bills’ requirement that the system comply with FERPA and other unspecified privacy laws. Five years ago the Obama administration gutted FERPA by regulation, thus enabling almost unlimited disclosure of personally identifiable student data as long as certain terms are used to justify the disclosure. Do the bills’ sponsors not know this? If not, what are they doing writing legislation that relies on FERPA “protections”?

The bills require no particular system of data-security, leaving that up to the Office. But the Office will have an unenviable task, given that this wealth of extremely sensitive information (including student education data, Social Security numbers from the Labor Department, family income information from student-loan programs, and on and on) will be conveniently assembled into one neat package and therefore made enormously attractive to hackers. One might as well assemble all the crown jewels of Europe into one room and hope jewel thieves don’t notice.

If enacted, ANSWERS would be among the most intrusive longitudinal data systems in the country – only 16 states and D.C. have such an Orwellian system. But most Alabama parents understand that the government has no right to collect highly personal data on their children, or on adults for that matter, and give it to other agencies to track their journey through the workforce and through life. It is none of the government’s business. One would have expected Alabama officials to understand this as well.

An equally fundamental, and troubling, aspect of this contemplated data repository is its adoption of the statist “socialization,” workforce-development philosophy of education. Traditional education in America has been designed to develop each individual to the full extent of his talents, to expose him to the best of human thought; statist education is designed to train him to be a cog in the economic machine. Only if the State adopts the latter philosophy does it need a data repository to track citizens and see how the training is working out.

Fortunately, Alabama State Superintendent Michael Sentance has a strong history in a true educational system rather than a workforce-training system. His experience as Secretary of Education in Massachusetts back when that state educated children better than any other state in the nation should prepare him to recognize the dangers of the ANSWERS network.

In public statements so far, Sentance has focused on the critical problems with data security. The parents of Alabama students are counting on him to go further – to reel in the dangerous inclination of the all-powerful State to collect data on free-born citizens and use it to analyze them as though rats in a laboratory. If Sentance comes out against ANSWERS, that ill-advised scheme will probably go down. Alabama is not China. Supt. Sentance can ensure that it doesn’t become so.

Alabama Elects to March Toward True Progress in Education

michael-sentance

On August 11, 2016 the Alabama State School Board selected Michael Sentance of Massachusetts for State School Superintendent; September 8, we approved his contract. One of six finalists, Sentance won my support during his 55-minute interview on August 4. I don’t think anyone in the crowded room was expecting what he said. Sentance gave us a brief but clear outline for his vision of education, modeled on the highly successful reform effort he had been part of in Massachusetts back in the early 1990s.

As he answered our questions, I looked around the room and saw the expressions on people’s faces and noticed a light of hope in the eyes of fellow board members. When the governor passionately asked him, “Why hasn’t anyone else told me this before (regarding AL’s assessment system),” it dawned on me this man from Massachusetts had a real chance of being selected. For the first time in my 13 plus years on the state school board, I believed Alabama could be successful in turning around our educational system and improving students’ lives as Massachusetts had done. As Sentance had explained about Massachusetts’ success, I knew an endeavor this massive would require years of close cooperation among k-12, 2 and 4 year institutions, colleges of education, pre-k, business and industry, and of course parents, the Governor and the Legislature. I wondered hopefully would we in Alabama be willing to join together to take advantage of this unique opportunity, one that might not come along again for a long time?

As I researched his work in Massachusetts, I really liked what I learned. For example, in the fall of 2001 when Sentance left his position as senior education advisor to the governor, the state’s upward trajectory had begun. It culminated by 2007 when Massachusetts ranked first on the NAEP scores on all four assessments – a status never previously attained. Called one of the nation’s most competent K-12 leaders and a Federalist, Sentance has since 2010 valiantly objected to the misguided Common Core regime. He argued for rigorous, proven standards that are developed by teachers and academics in a state. He believed “the states should be doing this work as it allows for creativity and the pioneering innovation that states can provide…. It’s why we were able to introduce engineering into our science standards in 2000—something still lacking in any depth in the Next Generation Science Standards. So I believe that standards should always be established by states without the coercion from the federal government.”

I read that Mr. Sentance also recognized that while the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act focused on the academic aspect of school improvement, the career-tech sector was largely ignored. As he worked through the issue of improving career-tech programs, there was pressure from some sources to set up something like the European model for determining a student’s work future. but he resisted such moves and they did not accept that model. He said, “The focus was to provide a strong academic education for all students. While there was initial resistance to increasing the academic requirements in career-tech programs, eventually a group of career-tech superintendents courageously embraced the challenge of our standards and significantly improved their programs. And, this was done without tracking or pre-determining the destiny of any student.”

In an interview with AP after the vote, our new superintendent explained, “My goal is to raise the achievement of students in Alabama so whatever people think about Alabama, they know that their schools are good and improving…. I’m excited about the challenge… It’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take the trust and faith of educators to work with me. So that is something I have to earn. I understand that.”

The AP article quoted Gov. Bentley: “I am not excited that we are 40th in 4th grade reading…46th in 8th grade reading and 50th in 8th grade math.” I join with the governor who asked the public to give Sentance a chance because our school scores must improve.

As C. S. Lewis once wrote, “If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”

I have faith that Alabamians will indeed work together and turn our schools around. Our students don’t deserve the status quo. We must turn back to the time when we were progressing in order to march toward true progress.

Alabama Common Core Repeal Bill Receives Tepid Response

Photo credit: Jim Bowen (CC-By-2.0)

Photo credit: Jim Bowen (CC-By-2.0)

Another attempt to repeal the Common Core State Standards in Alabama was met with apathy among some legislators and mocking by a taxpayer-funded lobbyist.  The bill was heard in the Alabama Senate Education Policy Committee.

AP reports that the bill’s future doesn’t look bright:

The newspaper reports that, as in previous years, there didn’t seem to be overwhelming support of the bill Wednesday, as multiple lawmakers noted flaws in the standards, but argued that it should be the responsibility of the Alabama Board of Education to address the issues.

“It’s an elected body,” said Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston. “In my opinion, they should be the ones making this decision, and I hope that’s where we ultimately see the decision made.”

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, the chairwoman of the House Education Policy Committee, said in her district, the changes have been seen as positive.

“I continue to have active conversations with local educators and people who support the high standards and believe they are more rigorous.”

A lobbyist for the Alabama Department of Education (I’d love to see a bill getting rid of taxpayer-funded lobbyists) mocked those who opposed the Common Core State Standards on Facebook Yellowhammer.com reports:

Sen. Rusty Glover (R-Semmes) introduced a bill this week that would repeal the state’s current standards by the fall semester of 2017.

“I bring this back because of the need that my colleagues and I see to strengthen the standards for our school children,” Glover told Yellowhammer. “A brag sheet was distributed by the Department of Education in 2011 that revealed all of the progress our students were making. The state then adopted Common Core the next year. The complaints by teachers, students, and parents have been deafening ever since.”

As evidence that repeal efforts are not the radical conservative position that some in the education establishment have argued them to be, Glover noted that even Massachusetts, one of the country’s most liberal states, is moving toward abandoning Common Core.

“It’s hard to argue that (repeal efforts are) not main stream,” he said.

Glover held a public hearing on his bill on Wednesday, which prompted a frustrated reaction from Tracey Meyer, Governmental Relations & Public Affairs Coordinator for the ALSDE.

“Unbelievable,” she wrote of Glover’s bill, along with a graphic reading “Bang Head Here.”

Obviously Ms. Meyer is free to post whatever she likes on her personal page, but considering she was doing this on taxpayer-funded time is problematic. Regarding her graphic, Common Core opponents feel the same way when we hear the same tired dataless, unsubstantiated, useless talking points we from Common Core advocates all of the time.

Common-Core