Confusion Over a Wyo. Common-Core Bill; Push to Support Standards in Ga.

By Andrew Ujifusa — February 13, 2014 3 min read
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The number of bills to scrap or pause the Common Core State Standards or the associated tests is on the rise in statehouses. But common-core opponents’ interest in these bills can lead folks to jump the gun.

Here’s a case in point: A bill introduced by Wyoming GOP Rep. Tom Reeder, House Bill 97, would scrap the state’s ability to enter partnerships with outside organizations that lessen the state’s control over public education. It would also ban the state from entering into any such partnerships that impact the state’s adoption of content standards. That’s an apparent reference to the fact that the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers oversaw the common core’s development. The bill would require the state to drop out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is developing common-core aligned tests. And it would create an advisory panel to oversee the development of new content standards beginning this April.

It’s clearly being seen as a bill to repeal the common core. On Feb. 12, the state’s House of Representatives voted 47-13 to officially consider the bill, which you can view below.

On Feb. 13, the American Principles Project, a Washington-based advocacy group strongly opposed to the common core that works with grassroots opponents around the country, sent out an email stating the following: “Last night Wyoming pulled out of the Common Core 47 to 13. ‘We congratulate the people of Wyoming on this historic vote. In rising up to make their voices heard in defense of their children, the people of Wyoming have reclaimed their constitutional heritage,’ said Emmett McGroarty, Director of Education at the American Principles Project. ‘They have reinvigorated the American idea of government by and for the people.’”

In fact, the bill hasn’t been passed by either chamber in the Wyoming legislature. The group quickly moved to correct its mistake, noting that the bill was a “step towards” repeal of the standards and a good sign for common-core opponents. However, the American Principles Project also said that “since it is in an appropriations session, it still has a ways to go before getting through the Senate.”

Despite the introduction in various states of several bills opposing the standards, there’s at least one legislative proposal that would do the opposite. Georgia House Resolution 1345, introduced by Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, a Democrat, would affirm the state’s adoption of common core. The standards have attracted a lot of attention in Georgia, some of it negative, in recent months. Last year, the state dropped out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a multistate consortium developing common-core aligned tests using federal money.

I called Morgan, a common-core supporter who is now running for state superintendent, to ask why she introduced the resolution. She said that in large part it’s meant to assure educators that the state’s work to implement common core won’t be wasted. It’s also intended as a way for lawmakers who haven’t taken a clear pubilc stance on the standards to show their support.

“Having a conversation about whether or not we should be participating in common core, I think it is late, and I think it is misplaced,” she said.

Morgan said there are valid concerns about the standards, such as whether Georgia teachers have enough curricular and other resources to make sure the standards work. But she also said she’s trying to fight misinformation that the standards are controlled by the federal government, or that they’ll be used to improperly share students’ personally identifiable data.

“There are a few people who have loud voices. I think most of their concerns are misplaced,” she said.

As I wrote earlier this year, most of Morgan’s fellow candidates for state superintendent don’t like the common core.

In related news, on Feb. 12, the New Jersey Board of Education passed a resolution affirming its commitment to common core.

Here is Morgan’s resolution:

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.