The Michigan Legislature is on the verge of passing what is poised to be the strongest anti-Common Core bill to date. The legislation SB 826 is sponsored by State Senator Pat Colebeck (R-Canton) in the Michigan Senate. A companion bill, HB 5444, sponsored State Representative Gary Glenn (R-Midland) in the Michigan House of Representatives.
The legislation would:
- Michigan’s math, ELA, science and Social studies standards (math and ELA standards are Common Core) and testing would be eliminated in their entirety, replaced by the standards that were in place in Massachusetts prior to Common Core.
- Local school boards would be free to adjust the standards, and after five years, the state Board of Education would be authorized to do the same. New standards shall not be implemented until both the Senate and House approve the new standards in concurrent resolutions.
- Parents would be free to opt their child out of any class, instruction, or testing.
- The state and local schools would be prohibited from collecting data regarding an individual student’s values, attitudes, beliefs, and personality traits, or the student’s family’s political or religious affiliations or views.
- Test questions used by public schools would be made easily available to the public.
“If the sponsor(s) can keep it from being gutted by the usual suspects who elevate their own agendas over genuine education, it will be a very strong bill. I look forward to seeing how the education-establishment and corporate types argue that replacing the Common Core standards with the indisputably better pre-Common Core Massachusetts standards will harm Michigan education,” Jane Robbins, Senior Fellow at American Principles Project, said to Truth in American Education in an email.
SB 826, that has six cosponsors, passed the Michigan Senate Education Committee, but has not yet been brought to the Senate floor for a full vote. HB 5444 has 32 co-sponsors and has not yet moved out of the Michigan House Education Committee.
One of the possible delays Melanie Kurdys, co-founder of Stop Common Core in Michigan, opined was the attached fiscal note that said the bill would have a negative impact. They disagree:
First, the House Appropriations Bill calls for the current state assessment, M-Step to be dropped and replaced with a computer-adaptive assessment. THIS strategy would be extremely costly to the MDE as well as local districts. Building a brand new assessment is expensive. Computer-adaptive state-wide assessments are an experiment prone to significant start-up problems and REQUIRE every school district in the state to have current and adequate computer technology and internet access.
SB 826 calls for the adoption of the Massachusetts pre-Common Core assessment, a proven, paper and pencil assessment. Years of actual questions, answers, cut scores and disaggregated student achievement are available FOR FREE online. All Michigan needs to do is modify Social Studies questions to reflect MI history instead of MA. The cost and administration of a paper and pencil assessment is far less than a computer based assessment. And based on our experience with M-Step, the results will be available to the schools in a much more timely manner!
Second, local districts do not have to change their curriculum. Local districts and importantly, teachers, will have the freedom to teach using best practice, rather than an experimental cookie-cutter approach. They can change if they choose, but change is not required.
Finally, the cost of the failed Common Core experiment is profound. A failed first attempt at a Common Core aligned assessment, M-Step, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Colebeck told Truth in American Education that the bill is waiting for Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) to authorize a vote.
“We’re pressing to get a floor vote. I’ve whipped my caucus, and we have the vote. Just need the the Majority Leader to authorize it,” Colebeck told Truth in American Education during a phone interview.
Colebeck said there is a lot of enthusiasm to get the bill “across the finish line.”
Several groups have called for the repeal of Common Core in the state. Stop Common Core in Michigan has led grassroots activism in pushing out the standards. The Michigan 13th Congressional District Republican Committee passed a resolution in favor of the bills. The Michigan Republican Party and Michigan 9th Congressional District Republican Executive Committee, Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan have offered resolutions calling for the repeal of the standards. Add those to national voices and local groups who have called for an end to the standards marking a groundswell of support.
Colebeck said that they will have to offer a substitute bill in order to see it pass. This has prompted concern among activists leery of a potential Common Core rebrand that has been seen in several states.
Colebeck said he is aware of the concern stating that the substitute bill will not be a rebrand, but will be a repeal and replace bill. “It will have a repeal component, and it will include the Massachusetts standards as a replacement. It will make it very difficult for the Common Core to eek its way back in,” Colebeck said.
When pressed about what would be taken out of the current bill if a substitute bill is offered, Colebeck pointed to the language in the bill that requires new standards having to pass through the House and Senate in concurrent resolutions. He indicated they would receive pushback and likely a legal challenge over that.
“I just don’t want this thing challenged once it is out,” Colebeck explained.
Colebeck was optimistic that the bill would see a vote within the next couple of weeks. He said if a vote is not held by then the next opportunity would be in the fall.
Stop Common Core in Michigan launched a petition that Michigan residents can sign.