BCA President and CEO, Parents, Teachers, Military, Support Modern Standards

Business Council of Alabama President and CEO William J. Canary today joined teachers, parents, and military families in support of the Alabama College and Career-Ready Standards. The Alabama College and Career-Ready Standards are under assault by SB 101 that would repeal them and replace them standards from the 1990s.

At a two-hour public hearing conducted by the Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee, Canary spoke in opposition to SB 101 that would repeal the Alabama College and Career-Ready Standards and in support of the current standards.

“The standards are benchmarks of proficiency in mathematics and English language arts that will better prepare Alabama students for success after graduation,” Canary said.

“When it comes to education, the BCA has a long history of supporting policies that put students first and will prepare them to enter college or the workforce,” Canary said. “That’s why Alabama’s College and Career-Ready Standards are of paramount importance.”

Ann Marie Corgill, the 2014-15 Alabama Teacher of the Year and a finalist for National Teacher of the Year, is a fourth-grade teacher in Mountain Brook. She supports the ACCRS.

“The standards are a goal for us to reach,” she said. “They do not mandate what we teach. They are not texts, they are not work sheets, they are standards.”

SB 101 sponsored by Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, is the second attempt in two years to repeal the Alabama College and Career-Ready Standards.

“We should demand to have excellence in education,” Glover testified. He said parents feel left out their children’s educations.

The Senate committee did not vote today on the bill. Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Pike Road, said the committee will vote April 15.

Last year, both House and Senate committees did not advance similar repeal bills. “I don’t think a repeal is going to happen,” Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, a member of the committee, said of this year’s bill.

The 2014 election cycle saw support for the standards at the ballot box.

The business community successfully elected and defended those who supported the standards that set benchmarks for academic proficiency and which are portable no matter where parents move their children. Supporters of the standards are united in providing children a brighter future regardless of their background or the zip code in which they live.

Groups that spent nearly $1 million to roll back the Alabama standards were overwhelmingly defeated in last year’s legislative and State Board of Education races. The elections and special elections in the previous four years showed that repealing the standards is not a winning political issue.

Former State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton, Ph.D., and current State School Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice were intimately involved in developing and refining the Alabama College and Career-Ready Standards.

Morton, now the Chairman and President of the Business Education Alliance of Alabama, conducted the meetings that led to development of the standards that he presented to the state school board in 2010 for consideration.

“They were not adopted hastily,” Dr. Morton said. “At no time in my tenure did I have any information that these standards were written by the federal government.”

A search for new standards began in 2008 and ultimately were proposed by the National Governor’s Association.

Dr. Bice said that teachers, administrators, professors, and stakeholders made the decision to create Alabama standards for students. The standards went through a public process, were adopted, and have been reviewed twice and modified.

“We’re beginning to see results,” Dr. Bice said. He said repealing the standards will return 740,000 Alabama public school students to No Child Left Behind standards.

A common belief of opponents of the standards is that they were developed by the federal government and they remove the role of parents and local communities in education.

Dr. Bice said the standards are not a federal process. “We made it clear we would never cede our authority in this state,” he said.

The standards apply to math and English language courses.

Wetumpka Elementary School teacher Judy Welch said the standards, now in the third year of implementation, work as designed. “We love the standards,” Welch said.

Several speakers were in military families. They said knowing that when their families move to another state with standards their children will immediately fit in academically because they don’t have to learn a new system.

“Parents no longer have to worry about whether a state has good education,” said military mom Beth Kramer.

-Dana Beyerle