In the last few days, those opposed to the Common Core State Standards have gotten two pieces of good news, at least one of which will live beyond one or two news cycles.
The more immediate shot in the arm for the common core’s opponents is that a bill requiring Alabama to drop the standards in English/language arts and math passed out of the Senate Education Committee on April 17. In its ultimate aim, the bill is identical to one I wrote about previously that was narrowly voted down in the same committee (a companion bill in the House also flopped). As the Associated Press notes, Senate Bill 403, sponsored by GOP Sen. Scott Beason, passed on a voice vote, and now heads to the full Senate floor.
“The whole push for centralization leads to the possibility of everyone going in the ditch at the same time,” Beason said.
Beason introduced his new proposal April 4, but what may have given the bill juice was something I mentioned previously—the Republican National Committee’s decision to officially oppose the standards due to what the committee members called federal intrusion into education, the abolition of educational choice for parents through the standards, and the massive sharing of student data, among other objections. For common core opponents seeking the imprimatur of a national political organization with a big stick, the RNC vote can only be seen as a significant step forward.
Alabama state Superintendent Tommy Bice called Beason’s bill “politics at its worst.” Bice and others in the education community had hit back against the Senate’s previous anti-common-core bill, introduced by GOP Sen. Dick Brewbaker, by testifying against it when it was first considered. But obviously such sentiment didn’t sway the committee this time.
It’s unclear exactly how the bill might fare in the full Senate. Remember, it also has to pass the House, and then get approval from Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican. In contrast to other states, core opponents in Alabama appear to have a friend in their governor—back in 2011, The Birmingham News reported, Bentley voted against a reaffirmation of the state’s use of the common core. So if the bill gets to him, it looks like there’s a decent chance he’ll sign it, another boost for people who agree with Beason.
Still, the move to drop the standards undoubtedly has new life in Alabama. Most of the recent good news for its opponents at the state level was coming primarily, if not entirely, from Indiana. Common core foes have to feel that 2013 is the crucial year in terms of any successes they can score. Next year, they could run into the argument that there simply won’t be enough time to pull away from the standards without causing chaos in public schools. The common core is slated to be fully implemented in the 2014-15 academic year.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.