The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) met last week in Scottsdale, AZ. They are an organization whose mission is “to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.” They have several task forces, one of which is education.
This group is important as model legislation is often developed and discussed and then taken home to the state capitals and placed on legislative agendas. Though the group’s mission is to advance Jeffersonian principles, in particular federalism, pro-common core state standards advocates like Achieve, Jeb Bush, and The Gates Foundation have gained ground with its members.
The education task force heard argument from Closing the Door to Innovation, a statement that has been signed by 350 prominent education policymakers, researchers, teachers and parents. As a result the education taskforce approved model legislation (sponsored by American Principles Project, The Goldwater Institute, and the Washington Policy Center) opposing the common core state standards. The model legislation below will hopefully be introduced in a state legislature near you:
Comprehensive Legislative Package Opposing the Common Core State Standards Initiative:
WHEREAS, high student performance and closing the achievement gap is fundamentally linked to an overall reform of our public education system through a strong system of accountability and transparency built on state standards; and
WHEREAS, the responsibility for the education of each child of this nation primarily lies with parents, supported by locally elected school boards and state governments; and
WHEREAS, in 2009 and 2010, the State was offered the chance to compete for education funding through the “Race to the Top” program created by the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”); and
WHEREAS, the only way to achieve a score in the competition sufficient to qualify for funding was to agree to “participation in a consortium of States that… (i)s working toward jointly developing and adopting a common set of K-12 standards…”, and
WHEREAS, the only such “common set of K-12 standards” existent at that time, or since, is known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative (“CCSSI”) and was developed without a grant of authority from any state; and
WHEREAS, local election officials, school leaders, teachers, and parents were not included in the discussion, evaluation and preparation of the CCSSI standards that would affect students in the state; and
WHEREAS, citizens had no opportunity to review and comment on the final version of CCSSI standards, and states were not offered an option to modify those standards before their adoption; and
WHEREAS, no empirical evidence indicates that centralized education standards result in higher student achievement; and
WHEREAS, adoption of the CCSSI standards would force several states to lower the rigor and quality of their standards; and
WHEREAS, the National Assessment of Educational Progress national test already exists and allows comparisons of academic achievement to be made across the states, without the necessity of imposing national standards, curricula, or assessments; and
WHEREAS, imposing a set of national standards is likely to lead to the imposition of a national curriculum and national assessment upon the various states, in violation of the General Education Provisions Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and the Department of Education Organization Act and
WHEREAS, claims from the Common Core Initiative that the CCSSI standards will not dictate what teachers teach in the classroom are refuted by language in the standards as written; and
WHEREAS, common standards will lesson the ability for local stakeholders to innovate and continue to make improvement over time; and
WHEREAS, when no less than 22 states face budget shortfalls and Race to the Top funding for states is limited, $350 million for consortia to develop new assessments aligned with the CCSSI standards will not cover the entire cost of overhauling state accountability systems, which includes implementation of standards and testing and associated professional development and curriculum restructuring; and
WHEREAS, special interest groups can manipulate the vulnerability of the centralized decision making that governs common standards and lower the standards’ rigor and quality of over time to suite their priorities;
Option A (Resolution):
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the (legislative body) of the state of (name of state) rejects any policies and procedures that would be incumbent on the state based on Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Option B (Statute):
The State Board of Education may not adopt, and the State Department of Education may not implement, the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as the effective date of this section are void ab initio. Neither this nor any other statewide education standards may be adopted or implemented without the approval of the Legislature.