By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
In his weekly column on September 2, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said that many in the State of Alabama are anxiously awaiting what the Alabama Legislature will do about Common Core, when it reconvenes next Spring.
Chairman Armistead wrote, “Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal took a bold step last week against Common Core, suing the Obama Administration and accusing it of illegally manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards. This is an about-face for Governor Jindal, since he was one of the nation’s first governors to endorse Common Core. He now says that the federal government has taken over what was to have been a good program and turned it into just another federal overreach by the Obama Administration.”
Armistead continued, “Common Core sets benchmarks to show what students should know in Math and English after each grade. Some educators, parents and students have complained the teaching style is fuzzy and confusing; often doing more harm than good….In 2009, the Obama Administration announced that over four billion dollars from the U.S. Department of Education would be given to states as an incentive to implement Common Core standards. Over the next few years, as a direct result of those ‘incentives’, 46 states agreed to implement standards by the fall of 2014. The dazzle of incentives from the federal government, however, has failed to shine so bright in reality. Many states have begun to reconsider their agreement. This past March, Indiana became the first state to pull out of Common Core. Since their brave decision, three other states – Oklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana, respectively – have also withdrawn. Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker has asked his state legislature to repeal Common Core next year. In addition, 14 other states have officially spoken out and taken action against Common Core standards.”
Governor Jindal issued a series of executive orders that pulled Louisiana from all federally subsidized standardized tests. To this point the Louisiana School Board has refused to comply with the Governor’s orders. Jindal said after filing the lawsuit against Obama’s Administration, “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything. What started out as an innovative idea to create a set of base-line standards that could be ‘voluntarily’ used by the states has turned into a scheme by the federal government to nationalize curriculum.”
Jindal accused the federal government of hijacking and destroying the Common Core initiative. Jindal said, “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything. These are big government elitists that believe they know better than parents and local school boards.”
Chairman Armistead continued, “New York was one of the first states to implement Common Core in the classroom, and began testing under the standards last year. Students’ scores plummeted. The disheartening results are sure to be another justification for states across the country to begin doubting the promised success of Common Core. Even the Gates Foundation, the second largest financial contributor to Common Core, called for a delay of implementation.”
Chairman Armistead wrote that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley sent the Board of Education a letter back in 2010, after he was elected but before he took office, asking the Board not to implement Common Core. Outgoing Governor Bob Riley however voted with the majority of the Board to implement Common Core despite Bentley’s objections.
Chairman Armistead said, “Many of the state’s conservative organizations like Eagle Forum, Alabama Policy Institute and various TEA party groups have strongly come out against Common Core, as has the Alabama Republican Party and the Republican National Committee….Many are anxiously waiting to see what the newly elected legislature will do with this issue when they convene next spring. Most Alabamians would agree that it is within our right as a state to control our own educational system. However, it is within our duty to build one that is efficient, successful and will allow for the next generation of Alabamians to prosper.”
To this point, efforts by the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee and other groups to convince the Republican controlled State board of education and State legislature to drop out of the massive federal takeover of education have been defied by members of those bodies.
Recently, the Alabama State School Board thumbed its nose at Common Core detractors by giving outspoken Common Core supporter Superintendent Tommy Bice a mammoth $1000 a week pay raise, even though teachers received no raise at all this year. Efforts by conservatives in the legislature to repeal Common Core standards have been thwarted by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) from Anniston.