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Senate votes to end Common Core in Alabama


Thursday, the Alabama Senate voted in favor of Senate Bill 119, which would end Common Core in the Alabama public schools.

For a decade, conservative activists have been telling the state to overturn the Common Core-aligned Alabama College and Career Ready Standards. For years, the leadership had thwarted efforts by Senators to pass a Common Core repeal bill. Whatever support remained evaporated after another round of disastrous state test results revealed what everyone already knew. Alabama has some of the worst performing public schools in the country and Senators voted that they think that Common Core has failed the children of Alabama and should be repealed.

State Senator Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, said, “Our state continues to be last in education. We are 49th in Math and 46th in Reading. Enough is enough. Common core is not working for our students, teachers, or parents. After 9 years it continues to be a huge liberal failure. It’s time to give our teachers the tools they need to teach and get government bureaucrats out of the classrooms.”

For years, Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, had blocked efforts to advance Common Core repeal legislation. Conservatives, like former Senator Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, brought legislation to reject Common Core only to have the leadership prevent it from getting to the floor of the Senate. This year, Marsh led the charge to repeal Common Core.

“In the past I have made it clear that we have an elected school board who should dictate policy when it comes to education in Alabama,” Marsh said. “However it is clear that we have a dysfunctional school board who is incapable of making decisions that give our students and teachers the best chance at being successful. We have used the Common Core standards in Alabama for nearly a decade and while we do have some blue-ribbon schools, the vast majority are severely behind. We are still ranked 46thand 49thin reading and math according to National Assessment of Educational Progress. This is unacceptable so it is time to try something new.”

Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth (R) said in a statement, “Common Core is a failed, Obama-era relic that must come to a quick and immediate end.”

“I have worked and will continue to work with the education community in developing high standards so that we have the most competitive and rigorous course of study in the country, we cannot accept the status quo and this is a good first step,” Marsh continued. “I want to thank the Senate for their support and their work as we ended up with a piece of legislation that went through the legislative process to become the best possible bill we could pass and addressed everybody’s concerns. This was a fantastic first step as we move to address sweeping education reform in Alabama.”

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“Our local school board members should have the right to make the decisions to do what is best for our children,” Whatley said. This is why I am co-sponsoring Senate Bill 119 that will finally end Common Core in our schools!”

Conservative activist Ann Eubank, with the Rainy Day Patriots and Alabama Legislative Watchdogs had told everyone who would listen that this would be a disaster. At one point, she toured the state having debates with then state school board member Mary Scott Hunter (R) on Common Core. The state Senate has now come around to the thinking that Eubank had championed almost a decade ago.

“I don’t care who gets credit or how this gets done, the future of our country depends on it,” Eubank told the Alabama Political Reporter. “Our children will pay the price of living in a Socialist country if we don’t, because that is what CC is designed to do. We, the Anti CC people were not crazy. We researched where it came from and who was behind it. What do I always say? FOLLOW THE MONEY! If Del can get it done, I applaud him. It’s sad that for 7-8 years our legislators knew how bad CC was and refused to do anything to stop it. Why now? Who cares? JUST DO IT!”

The Business Council of Alabama, led by Billy Canary, had championed Common Core and spent thousands of dollars on political contributions to elected leaders in order to get Common Core implemented and kept. BCA had accepted large contributions from the textbook makers that wrote Common Core aligned texts. Alabama corporations, led by Alabama Power, revolted against the direction Canary had taken the troubled business group last year. Canary has been replaced by Katie Britt. The loss of Canary cost Common Core its most powerful champion and likely had as much to do with the demise of the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards as the horrid test results and the bizarre experimental math concepts that parents could not understand and teachers failed to teach very well.

State School Superintendent Eric Mackey acknowledged the problems when he addressed legislators in February. He told the legislature then that he had instructed a committee to rewrite the math course of study and urged the legislature to hire math coaches, who would be tasked with teaching the teachers how to teach the new math.

Many legislators have told APR that a better idea would be to end the Common Core experiment and revert to traditional math where one memorizes addition facts, subtraction facts, multiplication tables etc.  Memorization of math facts like time tables is much easier to teach; but requires hours and hours of drilling with methods such as flash cards and constant repetition through worksheets.  The Common Core math teaches a mathematical reasoning methodology that rejects simply memorizing things like 12 x 12 = 144.

The bill now goes to the House, where it is expected to be assigned to the Education Policy Committee. Chair Terri Collins, R-Decatur, has blocked common core repeal bills in her committee in the past. Conservative Common Core opponents have told APR that Collins has promised that she will allow the committee to vote on repeal this year, instead of sending it to a subcommittee to die.

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If Senate Bill 119 gets to the floor of the full House, it is almost certain to pass as most GOP legislators have taken anti-Common Core positions during their campaigns.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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