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:

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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