At a press conference this morning at the Alabama State House, Sen. Dick Brewbaker, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and two nationally recognized curriculum experts explained why Common Core Standards are bad for Alabama.  Former Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education and current member of California’s Academic Content Standards Commission Ze’ev Wurman said:

“I believe that Alabama would be wise to retain its own 2009 academic standards in English Language Arts and in Mathematics, and to rescind its 2010 adoption of the Common Core standards. I base my position both on the academic quality of both sets of standards, as well as on the imminent risk of Alabama irrevocably losing control over what it teaches its students.”

Wurman backed up his position by arguing the following points:

  • The Common Core’s Mathematics standards are of similar quality as Alabama’s own, and their definition of college-readiness is sub-par when compared with actual university requirements and with the standards of foreign nations.  He cited Fordham’s comparison of Alabama and Common Core standards which showed the difference “too close to call” – no more nor less rigorous. http://standards.educationgadfly.net/ccss/executive_summary/
  • Assessment is important in driving curriculum, and the evolution of national assessment developed through federal sponsorship will undermine state control over textbooks, curricular stresses, and assessment costs
  • The U.S. Department of Education is already forcing the states to adopt its central command and control policy preferences through coercive measures, including by offering newly created waivers to NCLB requirements in exchange for adopting Common Core’s standards and their national assessment

His comments can be read in their entirety here.

Sandra Stotsky, a former Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education, agreed with Wurman and explained that Alabama’s current standards in English Language Arts are in many ways superior to the Common Core Standards and should be preserved.

“Alabama has almost nothing to gain from using Common Core’s ELA/R standards and much to lose.   Its beginning reading standards have already proven themselves, as the latest NAEP scores on grade 4 Reading suggest.   What could Alabama gain by using standards that have no evidence to suggest their effectiveness?  Or by using tests that may not address the important cultural content in Alabama’s own standards?”

She also commented on the mediocre quality of Common Core’s English language arts/reading standards in grades 6-12 and their lack of international benchmarking:

“Making this country competitive was one reason for developing national standards.  But this goal was quietly abandoned by the Common Core State Standards Initiative in favor of a single set of mediocre standards for all students. Yes, Common Core’s ELA/R standards may be somewhat better in K-5 than most of the state standards they are replacing, but they are not sufficiently rigorous in grades 6-12.  The bar is set much higher overseas because no other country expects all students to complete an academic high school or prepare for authentic college coursework.  Only mediocre standards and tests based on them will allow us to pretend that all students will be “college-ready.”

You can read her comments in their entirety here.

The Alabama State Board of Education will meet on Thursday at 9:30 in the Gordon Persons Auditorium.  The Board will vote on whether to rescind their adoption of the Common Core Standards.   We encourage everyone to attend to show support for continued progress under Alabama’s own education standards while preserving local control of education.   Gov. Bentley and Board Members Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters oppose Common Core Standards.