Chairman Emeritus of the Business and Education Alliance, Dr. Joe Morton Testifies on College and Career Ready Standards

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the Joint Committees on SB 190 and HB 254.  I am Joe Morton.  From January 2004 until September 2011, I served as state Superintendent of Education and was the state Superintendent in 2010 when the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics were adopted by the State Board of Education.

Since retirement in 2011 I have served as Chairman Emeritus of the Business and Education Alliance for the Business Council of Alabama  (BCA).

The BCA supported the adoption of the Common Core in 2010 and supports their implementation today.

Support for the Common Core State Standards is a simple business decision–it makes good business sense to the BCA members; the businesses in Alabama which create jobs and employ people.  It’s as simple as making available the best qualified students that businesses can hire.  Competition for jobs and job expansion is fierce nationwide.  Every state is looking for a competitive edge.  Usually, the deciding factors are:  tax incentives offered; taxes to be paid by the company; utility costs; wage scales; and the quality of employees (education).  Alabama’s economic competitive edge will be hurt by adoption of one of these bills, as it will impede educational progress and make economic development more difficult.

As I stated, I recommended to the State Board the adoption of the Common Core State Standards.  I did not do so lightly or in haste.  In fact, 37 states adopted the Common Core before Alabama did so.  Now 44 states have adopted the standards.  Prior to adoption we recruited former members of the committees that wrote the Alabama Courses of Study in English and Math and asked them to do a thorough comparison of our standards versus the Common Core standards.  It took months to complete the work and these were some of Alabama’s finest teachers and curriculum content specialists.  There were no bureaucrats on the committee.  Additionally, I asked that four town hall meetings be conducted across the state to get local parent and citizen input.  Following all of that, the committee told everyone in a State Board work session that the Common Core standards were simply better than the Alabama standards currently in use. I then recommended their adoption to the State Board and they agreed with a majority vote.

There was no federal coercion or interference for the Common Core to be adopted in Alabama. The Common Core standards were not written by anyone in the federal government.  The Common Core standards idea was not conceived by the federal government.  I ask you to thoroughly read the resolution adopted by the State Board in November 2010.  Adoption of curriculum standards is a decision by the State Board of Education as cited in the State Constitution and it should remain so.

In essence, this whole topic comes down to the two E’s–Economic Development and Education.  If one of these bills becomes law, both economic development and education will suffer and jobs growth will be hurt. It takes a net gain of 22,000 jobs annually to lower the unemployment rate in Alabama by 1%. Let’s not do anything to make that goal harder to attain.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you and if there are questions, I will be happy to respond.