BCA’s 2013 Chairman’s Dinner features Huckabee and Carson; Huckabee touts Common Core

Former Arkansas governor, television and radio host Mike Huckabee, and renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson headlined the Business Council of Alabama’s Chairman’s 2013 Dinner attended by more than 800 business leaders and elected officials Monday night at the Sheraton Hotel ballroom in Birmingham.

Huckabee is the host of HUCKABEE on the Fox News Channel and the syndicated Mike Huckabee Show on radio, an author, and a former minister. He was Arkansas’s governor from 1996-2007 and he ran for president in 2008, winning 26 of Alabama’s 45 Republican primary delegates.

Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, a scholarship provider, and speaker. He gained political attention earlier this year in a speech denouncing policies and Obamacare at a National Prayer Breakfast that was attended by President Barack Obama.

“I did, by the way, have my first encounter with the IRS this year, not surprisingly after the prayer breakfast,” Carson quipped. “They weren’t able to find anything.”

During a question and answer session, Huckabee said Common Core State Standards that divides conservatives is a misunderstood initiative. Contrary to belief by some, he said, Common Core State Standards set consistent goals in math and English. Curriculum, or how math and English are taught, is reserved for states, he said.

“This is an excellent foundation of standards states have laid,” Huckabee said. “The Common Core State Standards are the first step in providing our young people with a high-quality education. It should be clear to every student, parent, and teacher what the standards of success are in every school.”

Using a sports analogy, Huckabee compared Common Core with the rules of basketball that require a  standard 10-foot rim height, standard playing surface dimensions, and a rigid number of players on a team.

“Common Core is not about how you play the game,” Huckabee said. With standard rules, states control the curriculum like coaches and players control their game with different plays and strategies within the rules.

The BCA and the business community support Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, often called Common Core. The state standards were developed by the National Governors’ Association Center for Best Practices, the Council of Chief State School Officers, 48 states and the District of Columbia, and thousands of parents, educators and experts.

The standards ensure that high school graduates are college and career ready by creating consistent goals and expectations. Common Core helps recruit out-of-state and international businesses and helps make schools more competitive and raise the bar.

BCA Chairman Carl Jamison of JamisonMoneyFarmer PC in Tuscaloosa announced that Republican U.S. Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby were recipients of the 2013 Chairman’s Award.

The senators were unable to attend the Chairman’s Dinner due to the ongoing budget voting in Washington. Jamison said he and the BCA leadership will present the award to them in their Washington, D.C., offices later this fall.

BCA First Vice President and Progress PAC Chairman Fred McCallum, president of AT&T Alabama, presented the inaugural Robert “Bubba” Lee Political Courage award to former BCA chairman and Mobile Mayor-elect Sandy Stimpson. The award is named for Lee, a founding member of the BCA.

“We build a strong and more productive pro-business environment in Alabama,” McCollum told guests. “The BCA’s success depends on your support.”

Stimpson, who takes office in November, said his candidacy and his success were due to his association with the BCA. “Because of the BCA and what we’re trying to do in Mobile we will do everything humanly possible not to disappoint you,” Stimson said.

BCA President and CEO William J. Canary said the annual dinner marks achievements of the past year and honors those who made accomplishments possible. “It goes without saying that the Chairman’s Dinner would not be possible without your generosity,” Canary said.

Delving into politics, Carson said a tactic of the political left, with media and political-party backing, is to make the majority believe their opinion is the minority opinion and that the minority opinion is dominant.

“People are beaten into submission to the point until they’re afraid,” he said. “This is the exact intended consequence of political correctness.”

He also addressed Obamacare.  “The only way we are going to get this country back … is to back people who are willing to fight so that health care can remain in the hands of the patient and health care providers and not taken over by the government,” he said.

*This blog was updated on Wednesday to add “by the way” and “this year” to a Ben Carson quote. 

-Dana Beyerle