Michigan on the Verge of Repealing Common Core

Photo credit: Brian Charles Watson (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: Brian Charles Watson (CC-By-SA 3.0)

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.

Michigan Takes Step to Repeal Common Core

Michigan State Capitol in Winter 2005 Photo credit: Philip Hofmeister (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Michigan State Capitol in Winter 2005
Photo credit: Philip Hofmeister (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Michigan’s Common Core Repeal Bill just made it over a a major hurdle. The Senate Education Committee voted to pass SB 826, a bill that would repeal Common Core and replace them with Massachusetts pre-Common Core standards.

MLive.com reports:

Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, says repealing Common Core is important because the standards haven’t done enough to improve student achievement in Michigan.

“We’re going to repeal Common Core standards, which is kind of a race to the middle, and replace them with standards that actually get us to the top echelon,” said Colbeck, the bill’s sponsor. “If you review the standards, they’re solid.”…

…. Sen. Phil Pavlov, chair of the Senate Education Committee, said the Common Core has been a “disastrous national experiment.”

“It is time to end the disastrous national experiment that is Common Core and let Michigan manage its own destiny to achieve excellence in our education system,” Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, said in a statement. “This bill sets quality, Michigan-controlled standards that give our schools consistency for the future and give local communities a voice in their children’s education.”

Karen Braun at Stop Common Core in Michigan gave several reasons why Michigan should adopt Massachusetts pre-Common Core standards:

1. Massachusetts pre-Common Core standards in ELA, mathematics, science, and history/social science are the only sets of K-12 state standards in the country with empirical evidence to support their effectiveness. They are also among the few sets of K-12 standards thoroughly vetted by high school teachers and academic experts in the subject areas they address.

2. A statewide organization of parents, legislators, and others (www.endcommoncorema.com) has gathered enough signatures to place a question on the November election ballot that would repeal the state’s adoption of Common Core’s standards, restore its pre-Common Core standards, and provide guidelines for revising them in the future.

3. The costs for switching are minimal. The standards are free, and most of the original test items from 1998 to 2007 are free and available, requiring a company only to assemble them and handle logistics and reporting. Moreover, no extra professional development was needed by the state’s teachers to teach to them. The lists of recommended authors by educational level in Appendix A and Appendix B in the ELA curriculum framework were approved by a large majority of the state’s English teachers, and all test items were vetted by them.

4. State tests based on the Bay State’s pre-Common Core standards evoked no complaints from parents or students, and took up much less preparation and testing time than Common Core-based tests seem to need. All used test items (except “anchor” items) were released annually and used by teachers for instructional purposes.

5. The content of all the Massachusetts pre-Common Core standards and tests was vetted by a number of academic experts, and standards were placed by the state’s teachers at appropriate grade levels. They also participated in setting passing scores and performance levels, along with parents and legislators.

6. Michigan has a demographic profile that is not too different from that of the Bay State. Michigan’s minority population is a bit larger, but not that different. Moreover, all demographic groups improved in the Bay State and could do so in Michigan, especially if there were similar reforms in your education schools and in licensure tests. Michigan could easily adopt the required reading fundamentals test still used in Massachusetts (I helped to design it, based on my graduate work at the Harvard Graduate School of Education). It has been adopted by CT, NH, NC, MS, and WI.

7. I strongly recommend adoption of the MA 2003 History and Social Science standards, or at least a close look at them before the state considers any other set of history standards. The MA standards were checked by a multitude of scholars to ensure they were historically accurate as well as fair in their coverage of geography, economics, and civic concepts and required civic reading.

They share a couple of action steps for Michigan citizens:

We encourage parents and citizens to contact their Michigan Senator and Senator Meekhof at (517) 373-6920 or by email at SenAMeekhof@senate.michigan.gov and tell them to vote YES on 826.

Please also contact Representative Amanda Price, the chair of the House Education Committee: Strongly, but respectfully urge her to move this important bill forward to a vote in her committee. Her phone number is 517-373-0838 or by email at AmandaPrice@house.mi.gov

Michigan Legislators Launch Bipartisan Effort to Repeal Common Core

Michigan State Capitol in Winter 2005 Photo credit: Philip Hofmeister (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Michigan State Capitol in Winter 2005
Photo credit: Philip Hofmeister (CC-By-SA 3.0)

(Lansing, MI) Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, will be joined next week by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in introducing legislation to repeal so-called “Common Core” educational standards in Michigan. So far, fifteen Republican state representatives and two southeast Michigan Democrats – House Democratic Caucus Whip Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, and Rep. Harvey Santana, D-Detroit – are joining Glenn as cosponsors of the measure set to be introduced March 3rd to allow other lawmakers time to join the effort. Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, will introduce identical legislation in the state Senate.

“Michigan’s school students deserve the best standards, based on proven results,” Glenn said during a noon news conference attended by dozens of parents, educators, school board members, and lawmakers supporting the legislation. “Michigan students deserve better than to have their futures serve as an experiment with untested, unproven standards that have produced no evidence of actually helping students learn.”

Under the proposed legislation:

  • Common Core standards 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.
  • 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.

Glenn said a work group of education reform advocates in Michigan and nationally determined over the last year that the best educational standards in the nation – based on superior student performance in multiple categories of testing — were the standards used by Massachusetts prior to the national move to adopt Common Core.

He cited a 2014 report by Business Leaders of Michigan which found, for example, that in measurements of student performance in 4th grade reading (p. 34), 8th grade math (p.35), and career and college readiness (p. 36-7), Massachusetts students scored highest in the nation while Michigan students scored in the bottom half of the states. (See full report: http://goo.gl/ba07im)

Sandra Kahn, a retired public school teacher and past president of the Michigan Federation of Republican Women, introduced Glenn, noting that Michigan Republican Party state conventions and the Republican National Committee have adopted resolutions opposing adoption of Common Core standards.

Rachel Torres, a third grade teacher in the Farmington Public Schools, addressed specific examples of what she said were age and development-inappropriate questions posed to her students during Common Core-aligned testing. She described the frustration and disappointment expressed by even her most talented students as a result. Torres said she was speaking at the news conference with the support of her principal and fellow teachers.

Brenda Battle Jordan, dean of the Westwood Heights School Board, criticized Common Core for subjecting students to what she described as political bias and unproven methods for teaching math. “As a person on the front lines with children,” Battle Jordan said, “I know passage of this legislation cannot happen to soon. Our children are counting on us.”

Heidi Campbell, a member of the Algonac Public Schools board, also spoke during the event, with the blessing of the district’s superintendent, she said, who asked her to highlight the unfunded mandates and intensive testing schedule under Common Core that leaves little time for actual teaching.

Watch the press conference in the video below:

——-

Sponsors of the legislation as of Wed., Feb. 24th:

  • Rep. Gary Glenn
  • Rep. Robert Kosowski
  • Rep. Peter Lucido
  • Rep. Lee Chatfield
  • Rep. Martin Howrylak
  • Rep. Pat Somerville 
  • Rep. Thomas Hooker
  • Rep. Joel Johnson
  • Rep. Triston Cole
  • Rep. Dan Lauwers
  • Rep. Bruce Rendon
  • Rep. Phil Potvin
  • Rep. Jim Tedder 
  • Rep. Lana Theis
  • Rep. Ken Goike
  • Rep. Jim Runestad
  • Rep. Harvey Santana,
  • Rep. Jason Sheppard

Michigan Legislature Defunds Common Core, Fight is Just Beginning

The Michigan Senate today voted 24-14 to approve the Michigan Department of Education budget with State Representative Tom McMillin's amendment that prevents the department from spending money to implement the Common Core State Standards. Local school districts can still spend money from their budgets to implement it if they wish. McMillin said that the language in the bill is safe from a line-item veto so Governor Rick Snyder would have to veto the entire budget to stop the amendment. McMillin said this measure, in reality, pauses the Common Core in order to have a vigorous debate among Michigan citizens about whether it is a good idea or not.

 

“The legislature has just voted to allow Michigan citizens to weigh in on this important issue,” McMillin said. He said those who favor the Common Core will likely work to lift the pause before October 1 when the budget takes effect. “I don't want Michigan citizens to think the fight is over when it is just beginning,” McMillin added.

The Michigan Senate Votes to Defund the Common Core (Updated: Jumped The Gun)

Michigan_State_Capitol_dome_interior

Update: I was just told that today’s education omnibus budget did NOT contain language for defunding the Common Core that they will be voting on that next week.  Sorry for jumping the gun, I thought I had reliable information and didn’t realize there was more than one education spending bill.

Also, I learned that Governor Snyder will not be able to line-item veto this particular language so when the Senate does pass (hopefully) be sure to contact them, he will have to veto the entire bill.

Original: The Michigan Senate just passed the education omnibus budget which included language blocking funding for implementing the Common Core State Standards on a 25 to 12 vote.  The Michigan House voted for the measure yesterday.

The budget will now go to Governor Rick Snyder who has expressed support for the Common Core.  It will be interesting to see how he responds.  Will he veto a the $15 billion dollar budget which will fund the state’s public schools, community colleges and universities – especially as it includes $65 million for an early childhood education initiative that he has been pushing?  The Governor does have line item veto power in an appropriations bill.  What I’m not clear on is whether or not he can use it in this instance.  It’s one thing to veto a measure in order to defund it; it’s quite another to say to the legislature they have to fund an item.  If he can veto this language the Legislature has to have a 2/3 majority in order to override the veto.

You can contact Governor Snyder’s office here to let him know your thoughts.

Photo credit: Michigan Capitol via Wikimedia Commons (CC By 2.0)

Final Michigan House Budget Strips Common Core Funding

michigan-state-capitolThe conference committee dealing with the Michigan Department of Education funding released a conference report that left in language written by State Representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) that blocks funding for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.  The House shortly after took up the bill and passed the language again.

M-Live reports:

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan accused lawmakers of “playing politics” with education after the conference committee’s vote Tuesday morning.

Additionally, an email purportedly sent to principals and superintendents by Martin Ackley, director of the MDE’s office of public and government affairs, stated that without full implementation of the Common Core standards, the state’s waiver from federal No Child Left Behind standards was at risk and all Michigan schools were in danger of failing to make acceptable yearly progress.

Ackley did not respond to a request to authenticate the email, which appeared to be sent from his state email address. Portions of the email were read and referenced on the House floor during discussions about the budget measure by Rep. Andy Schor (D-Lansing).

Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) issued a statement Tuesday afternoon accusing MDE of using “the sky is falling rhetoric” regarding what he termed a “pause” in Common Core implementation.

“It is unfortunate that the Michigan Department of Education has used ‘the sky is falling’ false rhetoric applied to a pause in the budget on implementing Common Core. This pause will allow Michigan citizens to weigh in, for the first time, on whether we should hand over authority on standards taught in all our public schools to a private trade association (NGA) or not,” McMillin said.

The Michigan Senate could vote on the bill as early as tomorrow.  We encourage Michigan residents to contact their State Senators ASAP.

Photo credit: Brian Charles Watson via Wikimedia Commons (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Common Core Fight Holds Up Michigan Education Budget

Below is an excerpt from a Michigan Information and Research Service report (subscription-based) last night.

A conference committee was originally scheduled to meet at 8:45 a.m. this morning to consider the MDE budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. But by the end of the day, Sen. Howard WALKER (R-Traverse City) reported that the meeting has now been pushed back to next week.

The reason for the delay, confirmed Rep. Bill ROGERS (R-Brighton), is Common Core, a set of education standards developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Asked if it was fair to say Common Core was the reason that discussions on the MDE budget are ongoing, Rogers responded, “That’s not even fair. It is. It is a discussion over the Common Core issue.”

He added, “There’s still a lot of questions in regard to Common Core.”

States were supposed to voluntarily adopt the Common Core standards. And the Michigan State Board of Education did so for English-language arts and mathematics in 2010.

While the standards are in the process of being implemented in the Michigan, some Republican lawmakers want to stop the implementation — or at least slow it down.

They see Common Core as an outside interference in Michigan’s education system.

The House and Senate both added language to their budget plans on Common Core. The House plan banned the MDE from spending a dime on implementing the Common Core State Standards. In the Senate, the budget language said funds “shall not be used for development of the Common Core State Standards.”

There is a lot of pressure on the conference committee to strip out any Common Core language in the bill.  Liaisons from Governor Rick Snyder (who supports the Common Core) promised they will address it later.

Right.  Stand firm and keep the language in as both the Michigan House and Senate members voted for it.   Would Governor Snyder really veto the entire education budget bill over this?  Governor Snyder said that the Common Core came from Governors, not the federal government… actually it came from the governors association.  Governors didn’t have a direct hand in crafting this.  Besides the Governors should have run this by their Legislatures first anyway.  Why should the Michigan Legislature vote to fund something they have not had a chance to vet?

McMillin Amendment Halts Common Core in Michigan

michigan-state-capitol

Breaking…. big move in the Michigan House of Representatives!   The Michigan House today approved the Department of Education budget (HB4328) on a 59-51 vote with an amendment which does not allow them to implement Common Core State Standards or “Smarter Balanced Assessments”.  The amendment was sponsored by State Rep. Tom McMillin, the amendment is similar to House Bill 4276 which is currently before the House Education Committee.

The amendment reads:

Funds appropriated in Part 1 (MDE’s full budget) shall not be used to fund the Common Core State Standards Initiative or Smarter Balanced Assessments. Funds shall not be used to implement programs or student assessments created by the Common Core State Standards Initiative or Smarter Balance Assessments.

It should be noted that Common Core State Standards were never approved by a Michigan Legislature (or any state legislature for that matter). A press release sent by McMillin noted said that “Concerns have been raised about the State Board of Education exceeding its authority as it attempts to implement standards in Michigan schools that were created by a private, national organization, the National Governor’s Association. The National Governor’s Association controls the content of the Common Core State Standards, and the privately-owned “Smarter Balanced Assessments” align with those standards.”

“The Department of Education is trying to put Michigan schools in Common Core without legislative approval,” said McMillin, R-Rochester Hills. “Giving our authority to control what is taught in our schools to any national entity is wrong. I am glad the House is taking up the debate of whether this is appropriate.”

National education experts also weighed in on the budget amendment.

“The Common Core adoption cut the people and their elected legislators out of the process,” said Emmett McGroarty, an executive director at the American Principles Project. “On a matter that concerns the education of children, that is an especially fatal flaw. The House has taken a big step toward correcting that.”

Sandra Stotsky served on Common Core’s Validation Committee from 2009-2010 and now advocates against the standards. “Michigan can have a brighter future if its own mathematics, science, engineering and literary experts at its great universities are asked to work out college-ready standards for Michigan high schools,” said Stotsky, Professor of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. She holds the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality. “Today’s smart move by the House gives Michigan the opportunity to work out a range of state-based high school curriculum options.”

State Representative McMillin told me that the budget bill only included non-school aid spending which includes funding for the Michigan Department of Education.  School aid money, he said, goes directly to local school districts who can use the money to implement the Common Core if they choose to do so, but the state can not.

The budget will go to the Senate for consideration.

Photo Credit: DanMacMan via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)