Supers oppose Common Core ban

Published 12:05am Friday, March 1, 2013

Local education leaders say recently-implemented Common Core academic standards have improved education, and they oppose the Alabama Legislature’s attempt to ban them.

Dozens of teachers and school administrators publicly objected to the bills on Wednesday at the Statehouse.

Both the House and Senate have bills that would ban the state board of education from adopting and the department of education from implementing the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Additionally, the bills would forbid state education agencies from compiling and sharing student and teacher data.

The Common Core Standards program was first introduced four years ago after reports that high quality graduation numbers were unequal. Since it was launched, Alabama and 44 other states have opted to use the English and math standards.

The state board of education approved the standards in 2010.

Local superintendents said Thursday they oppose the legislature interfering in the educational process.

“I’m disappointed that the legislature has elected to politicize educational curriculum,” said Opp City Schools Superintendent Michael Smithart. “When the College and Career Ready Standards were adopted, educational leaders, business leaders and various other groups supported the decision.”

Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Ted Watson agreed.

“The future of our education is being placed in the hands of lawmakers, many of whom have never been in the classroom, and taking it away from trained professionals like State Schools Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice and others.”

Both agreed they are supportive CCRS and that local teachers have worked assiduously to transition to the new standards.

“I favor the CCRS. There is absolutely nothing wrong with increasing our expectations of what students should learn,” Smithart said. “Our students can stand toe-to-toe with anyone in America and using the College and Career Ready Standards we can demonstrate that. Our teachers and administrators have adapted well and immersed themselves in professional development in order to implement these standards and to go back now would be asinine.”

Watson agreed.

“I personally, think we can only get out of our students what we expect,” he said. “We started implementing the Common Core two years ago. I’m not going to lie; it was hard. The new curriculum is rigorous. It takes Alabama standards and backs them up.”

Watson said ACS teachers headed by Andalusia Elementary School assistant principal and curriculum coordinator Donna Glisson have worked tirelessly to make sure they are on track with the new standards.

“I have to give Donna Glisson props,” he said. “I’ve never seen this much work go into every level. Everyone knows what the other is doing and it goes from grade level to grade level.”

Watson said that the content of the new standards is very similar to past standards, but the big change is that they are designed to help students connect their math and reading skills to real-world problem solving and career application.

“After all this work our teachers have put in, it’s going to be hard for me to look them in the eyes if this passes,” he said. “They’ve done everything we’ve asked of them. We have to have standards, and these are good ones.”

Still, opponents of the standards argue that they relinquish state control of curricula to the federal government, while others dispute that the standards were adopted without public input.

Bice clarified that the Alabama College and Career Readiness Standards, were adopted after four across-the-state hearings and another in front of the state board of education.

Additionally, Bice said that Alabama maintains jurisdiction of its own standards.

“There’s nobody to call other than ourselves because we own it,” he said.

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