A brief recap of today's meeting - the bill sponsor, and chair of the Education Policy Committee, brought SB190 up for consideration at the start of the meeting. He then offered an amendment addressing several areas, most notably the legislative oversight portion of the bill. The amendments were accepted but prior to voting to move the bill out of committee I offered a substitute bill. The substitute was read at length (2 1/2 pages). The substitute addressed three key areas, one of which I previously blogged on at length - the State Board of Education cannot cede control of Alabama’s Education Standards to any entity outside of the state of Alabama. The second element reinforced that the State Board of Education must hold public meetings in each district prior to approving curriculum changes and that they must involve stakeholders to include teachers and parents in the process. The third element ensured data collected on students could only be used for legitimate educational purposes. Of note, the substitute bill was written entirely by me, and contained existed elements - to varying degrees - of the sponsor’s original bill.
The committee chair moved to table my substitute bill; the committee vote did not support his motion. He then moved to carry over SB190 indefinitely by voice vote. I voted to not carry the bill over as I believe we need to come to some conclusion on this issue.
The way ahead - I remind everyone that this debate didn't start this session with the filing of SB190. It started in November 2010 when the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core Standards via a resolution, against the wishes of then Governor Elect Bentley (elected in Nov 2010 but did not take office until Jan 2011). I met with the bill sponsor and with groups opposing common core after today's committee meeting. In the committee meeting, after the substitute was carried over, I made comments referencing this to an intervention at a family reunion. We, the conservative family, need to work this out seeing this through to some conclusion. I feel that my substitute was the vehicle to do that – it was not THE answer but it was AN answer - and I am disappointed that by all indications the effort remains unresolved and as such, the family remains divided.
A note on co-sponsoring legislation - For what it is worth, when a sponsor requests that I co-sponsor their bill I follow a simple rule. I review the bill and determine if I can support the overarching goal of the bill. Next I determine the elements of the bill; how the sponsor proposes to accomplish the goal of the bill. In most cases this includes several elements. I will identify elements that I readily support, elements I have concerns with (read – needs more work) and elements I oppose. I then discuss these elements with the sponsor to determine their willingness to work with me on these concerns. Based on their response, I’m either in or out as a co-sponsor.
In other news today...the Alabama Supreme Court ruled against the activist judge who had inserted himself into the legislative process, blocking a bill from being transferred to the Governor for signature. I commend the Court on their ruling. The balance of power between the three branches of government is alive and well. I’m told Governor Bentley will make a determination tomorrow on signing the bill or returning it to the legislature with executive amendments.
I am scheduled to be on the Toni and Gary Show around 6:30 tomorrow morning. I have a Commerce, Transportation and Utilities committee meeting at 9:00 and the Senate goes into session at 9:30.
Semper Fi - Bill