Common Core – a set of national education standards adopted by over 45 States and embraced by business, industry and education leaders – has a Bogeyman. The Bogeyman that haunts the Common Core is that our children will be brainwashed through public education and turned into mindless beings that support a Washington DC based leftist agenda, ultimately destroying our conservative principals and thereby the conservative base. It is too early to tell if the Common Core Bogeyman is real or not in Alabama, but the light of day causing the Bogeyman to vanish is state maintained control over educational standards.
Common Core Standards represent a minimum standard so that a child in a grade in one state is taught the same level of math as a child in any other state. The importance of this minimum standard to education, business and industry is to ensure a globally competitive, college and career ready work force – needed for a vibrant, recovering US economy.
Several bills have been introduced during the 2013 legislative session relating to Alabama’s adoption of the Common Core Standards. I’ve introduced and I support legislation that accomplishes the following: prevents the State Board of Education from relinquishing control of our education standards to an entity outside of the state (i.e. the federal government), fully protects the privacy of student data for educational purposes, and requires the State Board of Education to hold public hearings in each State School Board District for future changes to curriculum.
Legislation has also been introduced going one step further; repealing and defunding Alabama’s adoption of the Common Core Standards. Just last week the Republican National Committee (RNC) passed a resolution supporting the repeal of the numerous federal regulations, which interfere with State and local control of public schools, and also supporting the rejection of the Common Core Standards plan “which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement.”
I agree in part with the RNC; it is paramount that Alabama maintains state sovereignty over our educational standards and that local boards of education remain empowered to develop curriculum. However, I fail to see the “nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement” if the states and local schools maintain control over their standards.
As the Common Core plan is a minimum standard; it gives students an equal starting point and allows our local and State Boards of Education a foundation to build upon. It allows our children in Alabama to equally compete for college admission slots as children from other states. Likewise, if a family relocates, it ensures children are on the same level as their peers in their new classroom. At the same time, Common Core establishes a base of information students need to master before moving to the next grade level –this doesn’t mean that the base is all we can teach. By maintaining state and local control over our standards we can use this base as simply that –as a base—and then build on that base, challenging our children further. I don’t believe the Common Core Bogeyman when he says these standards are limiting or corrupting; I see the Common Core coupled with Alabama maintaining control of its education standards as providing our children with unlimited opportunities.
I don’t want the federal government telling us when and what to teach our children and I don’t want the Alabama legislature doing it either. The day may come when the Common Core Standards become the Bogeyman some fear. If so, we will raise the blinds and allow the light of day – through Alabama maintaining control over our educational standards –to cast out the shadows and mystery that is the Common Core Bogeyman. State and local control will ensure Alabama’s children are taught high standards for a globally competitive, college and career ready work force encompassing the conservative values we demand.