Alabama Votes to Keep Common Core

Alabama will continue to follow a multi-state set of standards in English language arts and math, the Alabama school board decided after nearly two hours of debate, writes Marie Leech at the Birmingham News.

The Board of Education voted 6-3. The three dissents were Gov. Robert Bentley, Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters. The Board now looks to continue with its plan to implement the Common Core State Standards at the start of the 2012-13 school year.

This comes after Education News reported on a group of lobbying educators and state officials who tried to rally the Board into rescinding Common Core.

They believed 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.

The standards were developed by an initiative led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Advocates say Common Core will make sure Alabama students will be mastering the same material as students in other states.

However, one of the dissents – Gov. Robert Bentley – said he believed the standards are an attempt at a federal takeover of education and that individual states should have their own standards.

"We want our standards to be extremely strong," Bentley said. "In fact, we want them to be stronger than they are at the current time. They just don't need to be tied to a federal core."

The U.S. Department of Education and President Barack Obama tied the common standards to federal Race To the Top federal grant money. Many feel that corrupted the standards, as states gained extra points on their applications if they adopted the standards.

"I resent, I really resent the government attaching themselves to these standards," Bentley said.

Board member Yvette Richardson, a former educator and superintendent, is also wary.

"From what I have been told, and from the research I have done on my own, these standards basically serve as a framework and local districts still create their own curriculum," she said.

Richardson says that she has had experiences with students who moved to Alabama from a different state and were behind because the standards between states weren't the same.

"From an education standpoint, I have a concern that when students move from state to state, they should have some consistency," she said.

Board member Stephanie Bell said she's not convinced the Common Core is just a "set of standards" and said she believes its a whole system.

"The Alabama standards we already have in place are doing quite well and if you look at the NAEP scores, we didn't get there with the common core, we got there with Alabama standards."

Alabama has the second-highest gains in fourth-grade reading in the country, as shown in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which was released last week.

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