Sponsors of Common Core repeal bill to regroup for 2016

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With the 2015 legislative session coming to a close, sponsors of a bill to repeal Common Core are already starting to rally for the next session.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Sen. Rusty Glover and Rep. Bob Fincher – both retired educators — expressed continued concerns over what they described as lack of local control over the state’s education curriculum. Senate Bill 101 abolishes the Common Core education standards in Alabama and grants control of education curricula to state and local education officials. In addition, the bill prohibits state agencies from implementing any other national education standard to replace Common Core.

Sen. Glover said that the proponents of the bill had been outspent this session. “It’s just really sad that a lot of what you have to say has fallen on deaf ears because […] money folks that have so much influence have disrupted our efforts,” he said.

Sen. Glover also aired concerns that the portion of the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards (ACCRS) that is designed by Alabama educators would be sacrificed to reach standardized test performance goals.

“When they say that this is an Alabama standard, 85 percent is Common Core and just 15 percent is created by local and state school board authority,” said Sen. Glover. “It’s outrageous to think that people are actually taking in an Alabama standard when the 15 percent created by Alabamians is largely ignored. If there’s a standardized test, there’s a lot of pressure on the teacher to do very well on that test. So you know that that 15 percent of curriculum standards will be totally ignored.”

According to State Board of Education member Stephanie Bell, the curriculum has taken a toll in Alabama classrooms over the last four years. “Common Core is not just about bad education, it’s about destroying the potential of our children,” said Bell. “We have already lost some of our best teachers […] Not just 5 or ten, but hundreds.”

Last month, the Senate Committee on Education and Youth affairs gave a favorable report to Senate Bill 101. The sponsors, however, have said that getting enough votes to pass the bill out of either chamber would be a challenge.

Rep. Fincher said the way forward in the next session would likely rely on support from newly-elected legislators.

“Our leadership in the House is not with us, some of the older members are not with us, but I have been encouraged – very encouraged – with some of the new members in the House that were just elected,” said Rep. Fincher. “We have a lot of support among the freshman in the House. A lot of them have stepped forward and signed the bill to bring about the defeat of Common Core.”

“I think we’ve made some headway this time,” said Rep. Fincher. “We have not gotten where we need to be, and those who suffer will not be us, it’ll be the children of this state.”

Ann Eubank, co-chair of the Rainy Day Patriots and legislative chair of the Alabama Legislative Watchdogs, told Alabama Today that her group was not surprised by the outcome.  “I was not surprised that they killed the bill to repeal Common Core again,” she said via email. “They have been jerking our chain for 4 years. It ends now, no more nice tea party ladies.”

Emphasizing their intent moving forward she added, “A strong group in opposition to Common Core are setting up a PAC for the next election and no one who supports Common Core is safe from a tough fight. In addition, we will be launching a program to boycott those businesses that give money to the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) which supports the destruction of our children and our country.”

Updated at 5:04 pm to add quote from Ann Eubank, co-chair of the Rainy Day Patriots and legislative chair of the Alabama Legislative Watchdogs. 

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