Georgia Senate Approves Common Core Review Bill

GA-state-flag-imageThe Georgia Senate passed SB 167 on a 34-16 vote yesterday.  The Atlanta Constitutional-Journal reports:

State Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, has led the legislative fight against the standards, which has drawn opposition from Tea Party activists as a federal intrusion into state control of public education.

But rather than abruptly pull Georgia out of the standards — something business and higher education officials don’t want to see — Ligon’s legislation, Senate Bill 167 would put into law the review Gov. Nathan Deal ordered of Common Core last year.

It passed the Senate by a vote of 34-16. Its prospects in the House of Representatives appear strong. Ligon said he has already reached an agreement with Deal’s office.

The Georgia House Education Committee chair already expressed support of the bill.  It’s not a perfect bill (which would be a repeal bill), but does lay out a clear review process of review, who can serve on the advisory boards, a process for public review and feedback, a requirement that higher education institutions are consulted and appropriate experts review the standards.  This should provide a lot of sunshine on decision-making process of adopting standards in Georgia.  I’d encourage you to read the language in the bill.

Georgia Common Core Review Bill Clears Senate Committee Hurdle


The Georgia Senate Education and Youth Committee unanimously passed SB 167 a bill that would repeal the Common Core State Standards in the state.  The bill introduced by State Senator William Ligon, Jr. (R-Brunswick) will establish the process for reviewing the standards, allows local districts to go back to the previous, superior GA standards in the interim, and establishes strong protections for student data privacy.

The House Education Committee Chair, State Representative Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth) promised support of the bill prior to the Senate committee vote.  He promises clear sailing in his committee.

It looks like this bill will likely pass the State Legislature.  The Athens Banner-Herald reports that this move and a poll just released on the Common Core will put a lot of pressure on Governor Nathan Deal.

Apache Political Communications released a poll showing that 42 percent of regular GOP primary voters oppose Common Core, and that 77 percent of those opposed would agree to higher taxes instead.

Most troubling for the governor is that nearly 8 percent of those opposed would vote for Democrat Sen. Jason Carter over Deal in November because of it.

“Based on the results from the last governor’s race, Carter needs to switch 9.5 percent of Deal’s 2010 voters to his side in order to win,” said pollster Fred Hicks, president of The Hicks Evaluation Group. “While that seemed like a remote possibility at the time of Sen. Carter’s announcement, these results make this race one to watch.”

The poll found just 30 percent of Republicans support Common Core, and another 27 percent are undecided. It was conducted by Hicks and Apache Feb. 13-16 among 923 people who had voted in the last two Republican primaries and said they intend to vote in the next one. It has a 3.25 percent margin of error.

Photo credit: Patrick Noddy (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Note: I originally linked to last year’s version of SB 167 as that was what was provided on the website.  That has been corrected along with the description of what this bill does.  The title has been changed to reflect this.  It’s a good bill, but it is not a flat-out repeal bill.  I apologize for the error.

Common Core Opponents Rally in Georgia

There has been a concerned push over the last week to rid Georgia of the Common Core State Standards.  Northwest Georgia News covered a rally that was held last Tuesday at the Georgia State Capitol building.  The rally sponsored by Concerned Women for America of Georgia Legislative Action and American Principles in Action.

Tuesday’s rally included parents with children in tow and Tea Party activists rallying in support of legislation by Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, that would require the state to end its three-year use of the standards. It is likely to come up for a vote in the Senate Education Committee next week.

"This is not a Republican-versus-Democrat issue. This is not a conservative-versus-liberal issue. It is not a right-versus-left issue," said Julianne Thompson, leader of the Georgia Republican Assembly. "This is a right-versus-wrong issue."

Parent Tammy Slaton told the crowd that her children’s math homework convinced her that the standards were watered down.

"If these new standards are rigorous, that is certainly not the word I would choose," she said.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce and its spinoff the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education held a rally in support of the Common Core the next day.

Let’s look at this contrast here.  First the Stop Common Core rally.

Sen. Ligon



Now the Chamber rally.


Stop Common Core in Georgia provided this contrast.


Here’s an overhead picture of the Stop Common Core rally that provides you a better contrast.


Education policy aside, politically speaking the Chamber just got blown out of the water.  A couple of hundred moms and kids vs. a group of couple dozen mostly men wearing business suits.  I know who would get my attention if I were a legislator.

Tanya Ditty wrote an summary of the event.

Over 200 concerned parents, students and citizens descended on the Georgia State Capitol today to send a message to Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia legislators that Georgians want control of education returned to its citizens. Signs were in abundance, and all with a common theme, “No to Common Core.”

The event was co-sponsored by Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Georgia Legislative Action Committee and American Principles in Action. CWA State Director Tanya Ditty opened the press conference with a message to Gov. Deal – the Governor’s education legacy rests on his decision to support or oppose Common Core. Jane Robbins with American Principles in Action followed and outlined the amount of education that had been done on the Common Core, but still our elected officials continue to embrace the idea of nationalized standards and testing. Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick), sponsor of the Common Core withdrawal legislation, followed. Sen. Ligon has been the leading, and often the lone, voice against the federal power grab of Georgia’s education system.

The remaining speakers included a local school board member, parents, educators, and representatives of organizations. The resounding message from all the speakers was this, “These are our children, not yours. Return local control of education to Georgia!”

Also here is an interview with State Senator Ligon during the rally.

State Senator Ligon’s bills are SB 167 and SB 203

Also Stop Common Core in Georgia also has published an open letter to Governor Nathan Deal that is very strong.  You can check it out here or read below:

Six States Receive Race to the Trough Early Learning Challenge Money


The Associated Press reports that six states: Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont have won a combined $280 million in government grants in order to improve birth-to-five early learning programs.  These states must show “a willingness to carry out comprehensive improvements to programs focused on children from birth to age 5.”

Later today we’ll learn what each state promised to do in return for their slice of the federal grant.  Thirteen states were awarded this grant last year.

Two thoughts: 1. Making kindergarten more “rigorous” (stressful) due to the Common Core State Standards will be used as a push for eventually making pre-school compulsory.  I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s the road we’re headed down.  2.  It makes no sense for Governors, like Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, to distance themselves from the Common Core if they’re just going to getting into bed with the Feds for more money.

Governors that crow about a Federal encroachment into education should no longer apply for grants such as these that have strings attached.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal Orders Review of Common Core

Most recent photo of Gov. DealGovernor Nathan Deal (R-GA) appears to be doing a 180 on the Common Core State Standards and it seems that it is due to political pressure and an upcoming re-election bid.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered a sweeping review of the Common Core national guidelines and asked the State Board of Education to “formally un-adopt” a part of the program that includes sample English test selections that infuriated some parents.

Deal also asked the board to develop a new social studies curriculum that emphasizes, among other aspects, civic and fiscal responsibility; and urged members to come up with a model reading list for school boards across the state.

The governor’s order signals his flagging support for Common Core amid criticism that the guidelines are a federal takeover of education policy. A target of tea-party infused opposition, the voluntary set of reading and math standards has become one of the most divisive issues in state politics.

“There’s a lively debate going on in many states about whether Common Core raises or lowers the standards,” said Deal spokesman Brian Robinson. “This letter merely asks for the school board to review the Common Core standards and rate how they measure up to state standards used in the past.”

It also distances the governor from Superintendent John Barge, a potential rival in Deal’s bid for re-election next year. Barge and Deal are the two highest-profile Georgia Republicans supporting the program, though both also agreed to scrap a Common Core test deemed too costly.

Barge said Deal’s letter is an about-face.

“Just within the past few months, we had a meeting in his office to ensure that we were on the same page on the Common Core,” Barge said, adding that he believes the letter was at least in part a political move by the governor to separate himself from a potential rival.

Barge said he began seeking teacher feedback on Common Core several months ago. “He’s asking the state board to do what we’re already doing,” Barge said.

The state Board of Education held committee meetings Wednesday but did not formally discuss Deal’s letter. It is likely to be on the agenda when the board meets in September.

“I can assure you we’ll do what the governor has asked us to do,” board member Scott Johnson said.

Read the rest.  On top of his own party rejecting them and  the price tag for the assessments being too high; there were the reports recently released showing that the previous Georgia standards were superior to the Common Core.  Why would he not want a review?

Comparisons of Common Core State Standards to Georgia Performance Standards Released

State Senator William Ligon (R-Brunswick) issued a press release this afternoon that accompanied two reports that compared Georgia’s previous standards with the Common Core State Standards.

Here is the presser:

ATLANTA (August 5, 2013) – Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) released two reports today, one regarding math and the other on English language arts, which compare the Common Core Standards to Georgia’s previous Performance Standards. The independent analysis on the math standards was provided by Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao, a 25-year veteran of math instruction who teaches mathematics and science education at Mercer University’s Tift College. Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and a former member of the Common Core Validation Committee, provided the analysis on the English language arts standards.

“Now that Georgia has withdrawn from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), I believe the next step in our efforts to exit the national Common Core framework must turn to the standards themselves,” stated Sen. Ligon. “I am encouraged that Dr. John Barge and Governor Nathan Deal jointly agreed to exit PARCC, but until Georgia reclaims control over all facets of our educational system, including our standards as well as testing, our citizens cannot exercise their full constitutional authority over education.”

The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) were adopted on July 8, 2010 under Governor Sonny Perdue’s administration as part of the State’s efforts to comply with the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant. The Common Core represents the first attempt at nationalized curriculum standards in math and English language arts (ELA) for grades K – 12. The PARCC is one of the consortia responsible for the development of assessments that will be aligned to the Common Core.

“State officials and their personnel knew early on that Georgia was one of the nine states that already had standards as good as or better than Common Core. That analysis was provided by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which in fact is a pro-Common Core organization which received Gates Foundation funds to perform that study. Even so, Georgia’s standards fared very well under their analysis,” stated Sen. Ligon. “However, I wanted to know just how satisfactory or how deficient Common Core standards are compared to what Georgia already had. I sought out two content experts who were willing to perform the study. What they found is eye-opening and proves that Georgia made a very bad deal when it traded in our former standards for Common Core.”

The math report summary shows that important mathematical concepts have been removed in the elementary grades: (1) data-analysis tools such as mean, median, mode, and range; (2) the concept of pi, including area and circumference of circles; and (3) division of a fraction by a fraction, which is a key component to number sense.

Here are the reports:

Georgia Leaves PARCC

georgiaThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported this afternoon that Georgia has decided to pull out of PARCC.

In rejecting the test, Gov. Nathan Deal and Superintendent John Barge cited its cost, which could have been as high as $27 million — slightly more than the state’s entire K-12 testing budget.

Georgia will offer assessments developed by education officials in this state, who will continue working with their counterparts in the region toward the goal of offering a regional test.

“Assessing our students’ academic performance remains a critical need to ensure that young Georgians can compete on equal footing with their peers throughout the country,” Deal said in a joint statement with Barge released by the state Department of Education. “Georgia can create an equally rigorous measurement without the high costs associated with this particular test. Just as we do in all other branches of state government, we can create better value for taxpayers while maintaining the same level of quality.”

…Barge cited costs, technical concerns and fears that the test could limit the state’s flexibility in crafting its own curriculum as reasons for not offering the test, which was supposed to be given to Georgia students as soon as the 2014-2015 school year.

Update: Here’s an email that John Barge sent to school superintendents today:

Dear Superintendents,

Earlier today, I, along with Governor Deal and our State Board Chair, Barbara Hampton, advised the leadership of the PARCC Governing Board that the state of Georgia is withdrawing from the consortium and as such, we will not administer the PARCC assessments in 2014-2015. Georgia will be pursuing other options for developing our own state assessments in English language arts and math at the elementary, middle and high school levels.  We will continue to work with Georgia educators, as we have in the past, to reconfigure and/or redevelop our state assessments to reflect the instructional focus and expectations inherent in our rigorous state standards in language arts and math.  This is not a suspension of the implementation of the CCGPS in language arts and math.

After talking with district superintendents, administrators, teachers, parents, lawmakers, and members of many communities, I believe this is the best decision for Georgia’s students.  Relative to assessment, our paramount goal is to deliver high-quality instruments.  It is critical that these instruments provide key information about student learning and contribute to the ongoing work of improving the educational opportunities for each student.

The Georgia Department of Education estimates that several million dollars in savings will be realized, annually, by developing our own assessments. The cost estimates for PARCC will be released later today, and these costs far exceed what Georgia can afford.

As we have discussed the technology requirements for PARCC, we have realized that a majority of our districts are not ready for full-scale, online assessments across all grades.  The state does not currently have the technology infrastructure or sufficient hardware to handle the test administration demands of PARCC, which include technology- enhanced test items.

While any new test Georgia develops will require greater capacity, allowing for online administration, we will be in the position to work with districts to establish the timeline.  This is important, as many districts need greater bandwidth, improved connectivity, and more devices (i.e., hardware) to handle not only assessment administration but day to day instructional requirements.

Developing our own assessments also will allow Georgia to determine the amount of time our students spend testing.  Based on current estimates, PARCC anticipates up to 10 hours of student engagement, through multiple test sessions conducted across two testing windows in language arts and mathematics alone.  I am optimistic that Georgia’s tests will require significantly less time for these two content areas, within a single window, and still provide high-quality information about student learning.

Finally, and arguably the most important consideration, adopting the PARCC assessment would limit the ability of Georgia to make adjustments or changes to our standards as we see fit.  If Georgia educators determine that certain standards need to be shifted or revised, we would run the risk of no longer being aligned with the PARCC assessment.  Such misalignment would put our students at a disadvantage.

As we begin to build new assessments, please note that our Georgia assessments:

  • will be aligned to the math and English language arts CCGPS;
  • will be of high-quality and rigorous;
  • will be developed for students in grades 3 through 8 and high school;
  • will be reviewed by Georgia teachers;
  • will require significantly less time to administer than the PARCC assessments;
  • will be administered within a single testing window;
  • will be offered in both computer- and paper-based formats; and
  • will include a variety of item types, such as performance-based and multiple-choice items.

I am confident that Georgia can use the information learned from our involvement in PARCC as we develop new tests.  We are grateful to Georgia educators who have worked hard to help develop our standards and assessments.  We look forward to continuing to work with them to develop a new assessment system for our state.

As we continue to prepare our students to be college and career ready by the time they graduate from high school, I believe this approach will benefit them greatly.  As the work continues, I will keep you informed.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. 

John D. Barge, Ed.D.

State School Superintendent

Georgia Department of Education

2066 Twin Towers East

205 Jesse Hill Jr. Dr. SE

Atlanta, GA 30334

Ofc:  404-657-6165

Fax:  404-651-8737

Follow us on Twitter: @gadoenews and @drjohnbarge

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“Making Education Work for All Georgians”

Also see School Reform News’ coverage.

Originally posted at

Stop Common Core Progress Update

commoncore1We are drawing close to the end of the state legislative sessions.  I thought it would be a good time to highlight the progress that has been made in fighting the Common Core.  If you look back just a few months ago you can see how far our movement has come.  Some significant progress was made in just the last five months.

  1. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) then called on the federal defunding of the Common Core State Standards, the assessments and the federal review board for the assessments.  He had eight other Senators join him.
  2. Indiana passed a Common Core Pause bill which brings more transparency for the Common Core implementation in the Hoosier State.  The Indiana State Board of Education is required to hold three public hearings and have a fiscal impact study done before they can continue to implement the Common Core.  Our hope is this will lead to a repeal bill as the facts, not just the propaganda, becomes known.
  3. The Utah GOP passed their own resolution condemning the Common Core State Standards.
  4. The Georgia GOP Resolutions Committee passed their anti-Common Core resolution 11-3 despite major lobbying being done on behalf of Governor Nathan Deal.  The Georgia GOP Convention were not able to take up any resolutions as the convention ran late and they lost their quorum.  This follows four district conventions passing their own anti-Common Core resolutions.  Governor Deal recently ordered 60 days of public comment on the Common Core in response to pressure he has been under.
  5. Oklahoma after seeing their initial bill get derailed had their Speaker of the House do a 180 and is now working to repeal the Common Core in their state.
  6. Iowa put Common Core Assessments on hold and now requires a task force to be formed to study different assessments (not just tie themselves to SBAC) and do a fiscal impact study before the State Legislature will vote on an assessment.  The time frame for assessments were pushed back to the 2016-17 school year.  This is a turn around as the original language in Iowa’s education reform bill gave the State Board of Education the authority to mandate Smarter Balanced Assessments.  So a conference committee stripped that language and inserted the pause.  Also opposition is forming within the State Legislature so look for repeal and defunding bills to be forthcoming next session (their session ended yesterday).
  7. Wisconsin just had a hearing on the Common Core Wednesday, and it sounds like it likely that pause legislation will be introduced in that state.
  8. Legislation has been introduced in Congress by Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-AL) entitled “Defending State Authority Over Education Act.”  This would “prohibit the federal government from offering grants or policy waivers contingent on a state’s use of certain curricula or assessment policies.”
  9. Pennsylvania is experiencing push-back that led Governor Tom Corbett to sign an executive order delaying the Common Core implementation. (Still need legislative action so this is permanent).
  10. Ohio is having a budget battle over the Common Core State Standards, after the Ohio House stripped funding for PARCC from their budget.
  11. States that have had legislation introduced this year that would either pause or repeal the Common Core State Standards: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and South Dakota.  States that are still active are mentioned above.  States that had bills die in committee (or in Missouri’s case was halted due to political games prior to a floor vote) we expect will see efforts again next session.
  12. We have seen an explosion of anti-Common Core state-based groups over the last several months.

It is clear that we have momentum in what seemed a year ago to be an impossible uphill battle.

Originally posted at American Principles Project.

Georgia GOP Resolutions Committee Passes Anti-Common Core Resolution

The Georgia GOP Resolutions Committee on Friday passed 11-3 a resolution calling on Georgia to withdraw from the Common Core State Standards.  The convention on Saturday ran behind schedule and since resolutions were last on the agenda there was not a quorum of delegates left to vote on them.

This is still a victory.  Governor Nathan Deal had sent representatives to lobby the resolutions committee to reject the resolution, but they still lost by a wide margin.  It demonstrates the growing opposition that the Common Core has within the Republican Party there.

Here is the language of the resolution:


WHEREAS, the control of education is left to the States and the people and is not an enumerated power of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution; and

WHEREAS, in 2010 Georgia Executive Branch officials committed this state to adopting common standards with a consortium of states through the Race to the Top grant created by the federal Executive Branch; and

WHEREAS, this participation required Georgia to adopt common standards in K-12 English language arts and mathematics (now known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative) and to commit to implementing the aligned assessments developed by a consortium of states with federal money, all without the consent of the people exercised through their Legislative Branch despite the fact that the people fund K-12 education with over $13 billion in state and local taxes each year; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core standards have been evaluated by educational experts and were determined to be no better than Georgia’s previous performance standards and according to key members of the Validation Committee, the standards were even inferior; and

WHEREAS, adoption of Common Core obliterates Georgia’s constitutional autonomy over the educational standards for Georgia’s children in English language arts and mathematics because 100 percent of the Common Core standards must be delivered through Georgia’s curriculum, yet the standards belong to unaccountable private interests in Washington, D.C. which have copyright authority and do not allow any standards to be deleted or changed, but only allow Georgia to add 15 percent to those standards; and

WHEREAS, this push to nationalize standards will inevitably lead to more centralization of education in violation of federalism and local control and violates the spirit, if not the letter, of three federal laws; and

WHEREAS, both the Common Core standards and the PARCC tests will create new tax burdens to pay for enormous unfunded mandates on our state and our local school districts; and

WHEREAS, the Race to the Top grant conditions require the collection and sharing of massive amounts of student-level data through the PARCC agreement which violates student privacy;

THEREFORE, the Georgia Republican Party delegates to the 2013 Convention resolve that state leaders should:

  • Withdraw Georgia from the Common Core State Standards Initiative;
  • Withdraw Georgia from the PARCC consortium and its planned assessments for Georgia’s students, and any other testing aligned with the Common Core standards;
  • Prohibit all state officials from entering into any agreements that cede any measure of control over Georgia education to entities outside the state and ensure that all content standards as well as curriculum decisions supporting those standards are adopted through a transparent statewide and/or local process fully accountable to the citizens in every school district of Georgia; and
  • Prohibit the collection, tracking, and sharing of personally identifiable student and teacher data except with schools or educational agencies within the state.

Be it further resolved that we appreciate Governor Nathan Deal’s principled Executive Order issued on May 15th which strongly recognized the need to honor the constitutional sovereignty of the people of Georgia over education and the urgent need to protect student privacy.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s Meaningless Common Core Executive Order

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued an executive order to address concerns with the Common Core State Standards.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sees it as an attempt to stave off a GOP mutiny.  Based on pushback I’m seeing and hearing about, it could very well be headed toward a repeal and that has to make Governor Deal nervous as he is on the wrong side of this.  You can read his executive order below:

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s Executive Order Related to the Common Core State Standards

This executive order does relatively nothing.  Sixty days of public comment is good, but still having the State Board of Education decide these things is not whether it is public or not.  He says they won’t share certain data, but they have a signed memorandum of understanding saying they will. 

State Senator William Ligon (R-Brunswick) who authored Georgia’s anti-Common Core bill (that was killed behind the scenes thanks in large part, I am told, by Governor Deal) responded to Governor Deal’s executive order:

I am pleased by Governor Nathan Deal’s decision to sign an Executive Order that recognizes the serious issues surrounding Georgia’s Common Core Performance Standards. While this is a step in the right direction and we appreciate the Governor’s efforts, this does not ultimately move Georgia out of the Common Core Program. The Executive Order issued today does however make a good faith effort towards preventing the disclosure of our student’s private information.

Governor Nathan Deal inherited the federal Race to the Top Mandates from the previous administration, and although I’m sure Governor Sonny Purdue had the best intentions at heart, Common Core continues to erode student’s education, removes control of educational standards from state and local authorities and causes significant privacy concerns.

Our students deserve better. If Georgia continues to participate in Common Core, it must accept 100 percent of the standards word-for-word and we would only be allowed to adopt 15 percent our own standards – this is only after the 100 percent Common Core requirement is fulfilled. Even with the issuing of this Executive Order, educational standards will still be set and controlled by private interests outside of the state.

Now it’s up to the Georgia Legislature to pick-up where the Governor left off. The Georgia State Legislature represents the will of the people and they are asking us to pass legislation to withdraw Georgia from the Common Core, the national assessments, and the intrusive tracking of student data.

Georgia must reassert its constitutional autonomy over education, and I intend to work tirelessly with my colleagues in the General Assembly to move our state towards a more transparent, democratic process of developing statewide curriculum standards.

Based on his recent comments I don’t have confidence that Governor Deal really wants to have a conversation about the Common Core.  He merely wants to save political face.  I’m thankful that State Senator Ligon wants to continue to fight for its repeal, and I hope Georgians will join him.