Common Core State Standards are being dropped by three states following legislation that will repeal the academic benchmark program. The only problem is that, at least in Oklahoma, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) says that the manner in which the the standards may be replaced could violate the state's constitution.
Allie Bidwell, writing for U.S. News and World Report, says Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has a problem on her hands.
Gov. Fallin has until June 7 to sign the Common Core repeal bill. The problematic phrasing is "any new set of standards the board of education writes to replace the Common Core would be subject to legislative review". This creates two barriers:
- The constitutionally created state board of education has the power to supervise instruction in public schools.
- A 1981 court decision held up the idea that one constitutional body "may not exercise a function expressly set apart to another constitutional body."
"This goes so far beyond saying, âBy the way we don't like the Common Core,'" says Kristen Amundson, executive director of the NASBE. "That's really the very big concern, is this [situation of] setting a legislature up over a body that is established in the constitution as an executive agency. That's beyond problematic."
With the advent of the Internet, a lot of people seem to take bills right off the Internet, and we do see echoes of things appearing in various states," Amundson says. "This is certainly troubling in and of itself, and it's also troubling because of its potential to be a precedent."
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Missouri's Jay Nixon are dealing with this same issue. Neither has received a letter from the NASBE yet, but their bills have the same wording.
When this same scenario played out in Indiana, Governor Mike Pence was able to sign the bill without resistance because the standards were, in the end, signed by the state education agency.
The America Principles Project (APP) has written Fallin saying she should sign the bill because the standards had "caused profound harm to our constitutional structure". When businesses and private interests get involved in our children's education the power of the states and the parents is compromised. Erin McGroarty, education director at APP, says that the push to remove Common Core standards is gaining momentum.
What some states are beginning to want, observes Motoko Rich, of The New York Times, is the right to come up with their own set of standards. Conservative Republicans are most vocal concerning what they call " a federal takeover of public schools". In a rare alliance, there are critics on the left, as well, who do not like the fact that teachers' performance is affected by the standardized test scores.
Fallin has been a supporter of the Common Core standards and believes they help achieve high standards. Haley is ready to fight Common Core to the bitter end. Still, says Michael Petrilli, education analyst for the Thomas B. Ford conservative think tank, more than 40 states are keeping the Common Core.
In Indiana, the new standards developed by local experts are similar to the Common Core. Naturally, teachers in the states where Common Core usage is being debated are frustrated. Their ability to plan and prepare is currently chaotic.
Fallin has until Saturday to make her decision; Oklahoma, if ditching the Common Core, has until Aug. 1, 2016 to write its own math and English standards.
Danielle Dreilinger, reporter for The Times-Picayune, says that Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is also threatening to pull his state out of the Common Core test development consortium.