Is Michigan on the Verge of a Common Core Rebrand?

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

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

In May, I wrote about the status of the Common Core Repeal and Replace bill being considered by the Michigan Legislature (SB 826/HB 5444). The bill they were considering was one crafted by Stop Common Core in Michigan, and would have been the strongest bill we’ve seen nationally to date if passed.

In that article American Principles Project’s Jane Robbins gave a warning about the bill being gutted.

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.

In May, the Senate bill sponsor, State Senator Pat Colebeck (R-Canton), assured Truth in American Education in May that, “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.”

He then elaborated:

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.

Looking at the substitute bill that was leaked last week it appears that Robbins fears about the bill were justified. Colebeck did more than remove language dealing with the concurrent resolutions.

Michigan Campaign for Liberty, who first reported on the substitute bill, noted one of the most important changes in the bill:

As part of the process of conversion away from the Common Core standards, the superintendent of public instruction, the state board, the department, and any other state public employee or authority shall take all steps necessary to terminate areas of federal control of the Michigan Educational process.

The problem is, this provision is being derailed.

Why are Republicans fighting to keep Washington D.C. bureaucrats in control of the Michigan education process?

A substitute is being pushed that changes the language to:

The department, and any other state public employee or authority shall take all steps necessary to terminate areas of federal control of the Michigan educational process that are not considered to be in the best interests of pupils in this state.

This added language at the end, “that are not considered to be in the best interest of pupils in this state” opens up a huge loophole.

All bureaucrats and politicians believe what they do is in the best interest of the pupils.  All manner of federal control will be justified under this new provision.

They note that Colebeck’s concern about the concurrent resolution could be dealt with in two steps. It didn’t need to be removed.

  1. In the original bill, the approval process was to be done through a concurrent resolution.  Instead, state that the legislature must vote on it via a full bill.
  2. Place a severability clause in the bill.  If any portion of the bill is struck down by the courts, then the rest of the bill stands.

Tamara Carlone with Stop Common Core in Michigan sent Truth in American Education a list of changes that need to be made in the bill (the more stars the more vital it is that a change is made).

The first 4 pages of the sub, except for the last three lines of page 4, are pages that were not included in the original bill.  The original bill changed any wording that had the term “core” in it.  These additional pages would need to use the same terminology of the original bill to be consistent and to be less confusing.” State academic content standards” instead of “core academic curriculum content standards,” for example.

Page 2 – line 2 – “cognitive” needs to be defined.

Page 2 – line 7 – based on who’s opinion/world view? 

Page 2 – lines 19 & 20 – define “Michigan K-12 program standards of quality”

Page 2 – lines 23 and 24 – update outdated terms – we do not use MEAP anymore… and what makes up MME now…

Page 3 – line 1 – “beliefs” is excluded here and should be included, as per rest of bill. 

Page 3 – line 7 – “all” is not accurate as all students will not achieve same material and same age/ pace.  Section 6 at top of page 4 refers to this, but this should be accurate taken on its own.

Page 4 – line 17 & 18 – update outdated term – we do not use MEAP anymore.

Page 4 – line 22 – case law referred to and can change…should refer to point trying to make here…

***Page 5 – lines 20 & 21 – too subjective/ based on who’s opinion/ world view?

*******Page 6 – sections B, C and D are all new and should be deleted.  Section B is too general; MA is for 5 years only; if include must be extremely specific.  Not really needed since all schools have current events – it is not prescriptive in the standards.  Section C is way too general!  MDE thinks what they just passed, NGSS, is “evidence based.”  NGSS treats global warming as fact and pushes it every year, deletes major areas of scientific study, deletes the scientific method, and no God or creation IS fact to them.  Section D is too general and risky.  If a new law comes up – that law is followed, this language not even needed.  These three sections are BIG holes in this sub.

***Page 7 – line 12 – Add, “and the Next Generation Science Standards” after “…not directly aligned to the common core standards” and before “…that were previously adopted by the state board.”  Then add another sentence, “Not directly aligned to the C3 social studies standards under consideration by the state board of education either.”

Page 7 – lines 14 & 15 – based on who?  Gates or other pro-CC groups?  Must be independent and repeated.

**********Page 8 – line 10 & lines 16-18 – “BASED ON” & MDE making assessments – this is way too open – MDE is a big part of why MI schools are doing poorly – stick with original bill in which we use MA standards and MA tests.

Page 8 – lines 23-25 – put wording back to original bill.

**Page 9 – section 2 – Schools too; and not just opt out of assessment – opt out of objectionable things going on in the school – see original bill language. 

Page 9 – lines 16-19 – this is new language – what $ would be used then?

Sub bill deletes emphasis on “coherence, focus, and essential knowledge” and instead just requires that “standards shall be supported by evidence that demonstrates improved academic achievement.”  The wording was selected by a MI teacher that sees the aim of CC being “off” from a true and full quality education, and it is separate from the proposed wording, which seems to focus on test scores.  Standards must be supported by evidence but that is already in the original bill.

Sub bill deletes prohibition against collecting mental data of a pupil or their family.  This section must be maintained in order to protect inappropriate data collection on children.  If exceptions are needed for mentally handicap children, there can be necessary information gathered to aid in the education of those children only – preferably maintained within the school district. 

Concurrent resolution language was deleted and it could be replaced with a bill with a severability clause in the bill.  That way, if any portion of the bill is struck down by the courts, then the rest of the bill stands. 

Carlone provided the following statement:

As the Vice President of Stop Common Core in Michigan I worked closely with Representative Gary Glenn and other members of my team over a year’s time to create the absolute strongest bill in the nation.  That is House Bill 5444, which was picked up on the Senate side as SB 826.  We saw what was happening in other states with fake repeals, etc. and wanted to avoid that in Michigan so the language of the bill was very carefully selected.  National education experts, state education experts, and lawyers were consulted along the way.  Our only goal is giving the children of Michigan the best possible education.  We do not get paid and we have no ulterior motives.  We work hard every day seeking the best interests of children in education and that is it.  We can tell you who all the special interests are that are behind Common Core, the related tests, the data, etc.  We watch the issue constantly and are part of a national network doing the same.  We know the tricks of the pro-Common Core folks to protect their gravy train.  We have literally seen it all.  So, of course, we were very disappointed to be shut out of the process when the Senate chose to pick up the bill.  

I have provided my detailed input on the proposed substitute bill and it has been ignored.  I can tell you who is behind every change in the substitute bill and why they are pushing it.  It is NOT to serve the best interest of the children.  The original bill gives us the proven best standards and assessments in the nation for a period of 5 years.  This is enough time to prove them out in MI and to flush the ill effects of Common Core and the related assessments out of the schools.  This substitute bill opens the door for the manipulation of the standards and the tests by the MDE. 

The MDE has been in charge of our schools for a long time and their own recent road show for new science and social studies standards detailed the poor results.  Let’s use proven standards and assessments for 5 years and let our children flourish.   From there we can decide the best course of action going forward.  We can continue with it after 5 years and tweak it as needed.  During the 5 years we could work on improving teacher training, and other things that need attention in education.  The original bill also kicks federal control of education in MI to the curb, gets rid of inappropriate data collection on our children, and clarifies local control and the rights of parents to opt their children out of objectionable material.  The substitute bill retains federal control and reduces the strength in the language on the other issues.  We need legislators that are willing to do whatever it takes to do right by the children of Michigan, not whatever it takes to protect Fed Ed, the MDE, and special interests.

Unless recommended changes are made to the substitute bill then all Michigan will get is a rebranding of the Common Core State Standards under the guise of a repeal, not to mention allow the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and C3 State Social Studies Standards.

Note: Be sure to see Karen Braun’s article on this development at Stop Common Core in Michigan’s website.

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