Alabama Common Core Opponents Slam Standards in Meeting

A group of lobbying educators and state officials believe the Alabama Board of Education should rescind last year’s approval of national core standards in math and English, known as Common Core, because they believe the new measure would actually lower the current bar for student performance, writes Jim Van Anglen at the Associated Press.

“I’m thrilled that Alabama is finally taking a hard look at the adoption of Common Core,” said Ze’ev Wurman, a business executive who has spent the last two decades helping develop California’s education standards.

His comments came during a Statehouse meeting organized by opponents of Common Core. The state school board could consider rescinding its approval of Common Core as early as Thursday.

“We have new board members,” said school board member Stephanie Bell, R-Montgomery. “I hope we have an opportunity to change” last year’s decision.

The standards list the things that should be taught in each grade and teachers then are to design their lesson plans to cover them.

Critics have argued that the new requirements are not as rigorous as ones already in place in Alabama.

They believe that the national standards were rushed through development and would be far too expensive to implement. And some are also worried that it also hands over too much control of local education to Washington.

“This country needs a common standard across the board,” said state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile, who opposes rescinding adoption of Common Core. She said students who move are often way behind or ahead of students in their new schools.

Figures said the standards can always be adjusted. “Nothing is perfect when you first start out,” she said.

But advocates say the new standards will make sure Alabama students will be mastering the same material as students in other states. This means a smoother transition for children who move from one state to another because of their parents’ jobs or military assignments.

They say that the state’s English standards already cover 92 percent of Common Core, while the math standards cover 96 percent and it would require only a little tweaking of its current standards.

But Sandra Stotsky, a professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas, told the Statehouse meeting that Common Core’s English standards for Grades 6-12 are mediocre and lack comparisons to other countries.

“Making this country competitive was one reason for developing national standards,” she said. “But this goal was quietly abandoned … in favor or a single set of mediocre standards for all students.”