We certainly hope so.
Our children are just as capable as children in other states. Our teachers are just as talented. Our school administrators have as much ability to organize and manage our schools as those anywhere.
Standardized testing has been used for decades to determine where they are, but the country has lacked a consistent roadmap for getting children where they need to be in their educational journey.
In 2009 the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers came up with a plan to create voluntary national standards in math and reading as a way to address that.
Called the “Common Core,” all but four states — including Alabama — quickly signed on. Currently, forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the standards.
Alabama’s state school board voted, in a split decision, to approve implementation of the standards two years ago.
Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters opposed the standards, decrying what they saw as a federal takeover of our schools.
Other opponents of the plan became alarmed when the Obama administration tied “college and career-ready standards” to billions of federal grants. He also linked adoption of those standards to the granting of waivers for states that wanted to get out from under the increasing demands of “No Child Left Behind.”
That only added fuel to the fire for those who feared the standards were part of a conspiracy by the federal government.
Exactly what kind of conspiracy we should fear hasn’t been explained. In speaking engagements in 2010, Bell noted that the standards were beginning with non-controversial subjects like English and math. Granted, there are more hot-button issues in science and history.
Bell and Peters failed to persuade the other state school board members to reject the standards, and they were adopted by the board that year.
For the legislature to come back now and attempt to reverse that decision seems like a desperate attempt to micromanage education in the state.
The state school board is charged by state law with the responsibility of making decisions about curriculum for the state’s public schools.
House Speaker Mike Hubbard is leading the charge to overturn the board’s decision, arguing that public education guidelines are best made at home.
State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice is opposed to overturning the board’s decision. Surprisingly, Hubbard is even at odds with the Business Council of Alabama on this issue. In recent years, the BCA’s legislative agenda has typically gotten the VIP treatment in Montgomery.
It’s possible that Alabama’s education leaders could find future core standards unacceptable. If they do, we expect them to reject their adoption. But we think that decision should be made by the state board of education, not the legislature.
There are plenty of urgent issues that need the legislature’s attention. Overturning a decision made by our state’s elected school board isn’t one of them.