By Karen McClelland, Sedona Resident
(March 20, 2015)
Next week the Arizona Senate will be voting on House Bill 2190 to repeal the Common Core Standards adopted by the Legislature in 2010 for use in Math and English language Arts in public schools in Arizona.
Passage of this bill will be a huge step backwards forPUblic Education in Arizona.
This bill is very bad policy. The bill is vague and confusing. There are many reasons to vote NO on this bill.
As an elected 4th term member (over 12 years) of the Sedona-Oak Creek School Board, parent and taxpayer, let me list a few:
1. Standards are NOT curriculum. The Arizona College and Career Readiness standards do not mandate the use of any particular work of fiction. They require only an increasing level of difficulty and complexity as students progress from Kindergarten to 12th grade. The choice of books is completely at the discretion of the local school board where it belongs. Any parent who is upset with a particular book needs to contact the school board who approved the use.
2. Standards are necessary. We have had standards for many years. The standards used prior to 2010 and the adoption of the AZ College and Career Ready Standards were not sufficiently rigorous. The Arizona Board of Regents and the Community Colleges were complaining that too many freshmen needed remedial course work to be ready for college math and English. We needed to increase the rigor and complexity of our standards and require a higher level of critical thinking in each grade level.
3. Standards adopted by other states or approved by other entities such as the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (like the “Common Core”) are not ipso facto bad. I am sure that most math teachers would agree that there is a logical progression in teaching math concepts to get from addition to calculus. A law that requires us to re-invent the wheel from scratch with our eyes closed to rest of the world is just ridiculous.
4. The Arizona College and Career Ready standards were adopted by the Arizona Legislature in 2010 (you may have been one of the legislators who voted for them!) and school districts, county superintendents and individual schools and teachers have spent countless hours in professional development preparing for their full implementation this past year. Teachers have been personalizing these stands and developing curriculum and reading lists in cooperation with local school boards. To toss all this hard work out the window is a huge step backwards. To expect a successful implementation of new unknown standards or a return to the 2009 standards in less than 6 months is not realistic.
5. Lots of money was spent during the last five years of DEEP budget cuts to prepare for these new standards. We used resources for professional development, curriculum and technology that could have been spent on many other areas (such as keeping, librarians, nurses, music, art and P.E. in all our classrooms) on this project. Asking us to start over and send money that is even less available now is impossible given that many of us are considering budget cuts for next year already.
Please tell the Senate to vote NO when this bill comes to the floor of the Senate for a vote!
Please contact our Senator Sylvia Allen ( email@example.com 602 926-5409) and ask her to vote No on this bill. Contact the other 29 Senators and tell them the same.
The following states never adopted Common Core, countering previous discussions in this space which were inaccurate:
Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia. In addition, many states who did, as the feds hung the $ over their head have modified it dramatically or are repealing it. You can research each state here, although this data is somewhat dated:
The Common Core’s main selling point was that new, shared standards would ensure American students were learning at the same rates across state lines. Common standards – linked to common tests – would tell schools in Illinois how they stacked up against schools in Massachusetts or California.
In 2010, 45 states adopted the Common Core State Standards, a set of skills in math and English students should master in each grade. By 2012, they had all signed up for at least one of two federally funded, multi-state consortia charged with developing new online tests that would match the standards and be shared among the states. Today, that number is down to 36, as states have pulled out to design their own exams or dropped out of the Common Core altogether.
June 2014, Oklahoma repealed the Common Core standards
South Carolina passed legislation on May 30 that keeps the standards in place for the 2014-2015 school year only.
Indiana dropped the standards in March 2014.
In Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon is considering a bill that would commission groups of “education professionals,” mostly working teachers, to develop and make recommendations for new standards.
North Carolina, a Common Core state, legislators passed bills requiring an appointed panel to make recommendations for possible revisions of the standards to the state board of education. A group of retired military generals is urging lawmakers in North Carolina not to repeal the Common Core, which could make frequent school changes across state lines simpler for military children.
PARCC has been the hardest hit of the two consortia, with just nine states and Washington, D.C. still listed as members, down from 24 in 2010.
March, Tennessee legislators voted to stall the state’s adoption of PARCC tests. Students there will continue to take the multiple-choice Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, next spring.
New York, which previously signed up for PARCC tests but has used its own Common Core-aligned tests in the mean time, a drastic drop in test scores last year prompted legislators to delay a commitment to the test.
New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, a small testing alliance that began with New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. The three states collaborated to create “grade level expectations,” and Measured Progress, a New Hampshire-based test design company, created common exams in reading, writing and math. The first tests were given in 2005. Maine joined the collaborative in 2009.
Montana – Feb 2015, legislature debating on eliminating Common Core.
DO WE NEED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT spending billions on education when those dollars should be kept IN THE STATES? The more we spend the less we get. We keep hearing SPEND MORE – the POOR KIDS! We already top the WORLD in spending per student but the USA does not rank anywhere close to other countries spending less.
After decades of doing the same thing, maybe it is time to get the feds out of education. Hey, here is a program that continues to work:
Giving public funds to consumers in the form of vouchers is not a radical idea. Existing voucher programs include food stamps, low-income housing vouchers, the GI Bill and Pell Grants for college students. There can be little doubt that the schools parents would choose under a school choice program would be different from those currently funded with tax dollars.
Before you call Sylvia Allen and encourage her to vote “NO”, please educate yourself and become aware of national policies that are tied to Federal purse strings. Here is a well referenced pamphlet that you might find helpful.
You may want to call Sylvia Allen and our other 29 Senators and encourage them to SUPPORT the current legislation. Senator Sylvia Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org 602 926-5409)