Effort to Repeal Common Core Standards Dies in Committee

For now,the effort to repeal the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards is dead, as the Senate Education Committee voted this morning to carry over indefinitely SB 190, by Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Pike Road.

With standing room only, a diverse group of people attended the committee meeting to see what would happen after Brewbaker announced last week that some kind of action would be taken today.  Most of the proponents of the legislation were members of the Tea Party, while the opponents consisted of State School Board members Tracy Roberts and Mary Scott Hunter, State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice, along with representatives from the Superintendents Association, School Board Association and the A+ Education Partnership.  The BCA and other business interests, including representatives from Boeing and the Alabama Technology Network, also attended in opposition to the bill.

Brewbaker, the committee chairman, offered an amendment at the beginning of the meeting that would remove the legislative oversight portion of the bill saying, “I’m not anxious to get into the oversight portion and I haven’t spoken to many other senators who are either.”

After the committee adopted the amendment, Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison, offered a substitute that essentially said the State Board of Education could not cede control of Alabama’s curriculum to any entity outside of Alabama and that the data sharing portion of the bill would be protected but could only used for legitimate education purposes.  When it comes to adopting new standards in the future, which is common practice, Holtzclaw’s bill would have required a public hearing on new standards to be held in each State School Board district.

Brewbaker then made a motion to table the Holtzclaw substitute, which subsequently failed.  Committee members voting for the substitute were: Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison; Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne; Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery; Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile; and Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma.  Committee members who voted to table the substitute were Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Pike Road; Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston; Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa; and Sen. Shadrack McGill, R-Scottsboro.

Brewbaker, realizing the substitute that was adopted did not accomplish the original intent of repealing the common core, asked that the bill be carried over indefinitely, essentially killing the legislation.

“I think this issue will be back,” said Holtzclaw after the committee agreed to carry over the bill.  “I definitely think it will be back,” responded Brewbaker.  “If you want to introduce a bill that does what your sub did, we’ll be happy to take it back up in this committee.”

There was a clear disappointment in the room from Brewbaker and the Tea Party contingent, who have so far been the only group to rally to his side on this issue.

“The Alabama College and Career Ready Standards are vital in preparing students to compete in the 21st century global workforce which requires highly skilled workers,” said BCA president and CEO William J. Canary last week.  “Adoption of SB 190 and HB 254 would be a giant step backward, based on a false premise that Alabama and local school systems would lose control over their curriculum.  While some will continue a campaign of fear on this issue, we will continue to stand united in the business, education and military communities in offering our children the hope of a bright future.”

The BCA will continue to monitor any potential legislation that would lower Alabama’s high academic standards, and we will continue to work with the Legislature and State School Board when it comes to the data sharing concerns that have been raised during this debate.

-Nathan M. Lindsay