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Common Core State Standards attract controversy across U.S.

Published: Friday, May 24 2013 2:15 p.m. MDT

Though 45 states and the District of Columbia adopted the core, and several states are already implementing them, there are signs of back-pedaling in several states. In Utah, Republicans approved a resolution to withdraw funding for the Common Core at their May 18 convention.

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The Common Core State Standards for K-12 education, adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, are touted by some education-watchers as a states-led effort to improve college and career readiness of high school graduates and raise students’ slipping scores on international tests. Others decry the new standards as an intrusive federal program with a cookie-cutter approach to education.

Now it appears that some states that adopted the standards might never implement them, because of a backlash that’s prompting several states to reconsider their support. It’s a battle that has created strange bedfellows among liberals and conservatives and highlighted rifts within the GOP.

Across the nation

In April, the Republican National Committee declared its opposition to the Common Core on grounds that it is “a one size fits all approach” and “inappropriate overreach.” But many high-profile Republicans remain staunch advocates of the standards, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, according to an April New York Times story.

Though 45 states and the District of Columbia adopted the core, and several states are already implementing them, there are signs of back-pedaling in several states. In Utah, Republicans approved a resolution to withdraw funding for the Common Core at their May 18 convention. A May 14 story in Education Week listed other states facing controversy over the Common Core:

In Alabama, the state Legislature has tried several times to derail the Common Core. A bill to drop the standards cleared the Senate Education Committee but was killed by Senate President Pro Tem Del March, a Republican.

Michigan’s House of Representatives approved a budget that would defund implementation of the Common Core, but Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has reiterated his support.

Ohio has seen groups such as Ohioans Against Common Core and Education Freedom Ohio step up pressure on state lawmakers to drop the standards.

Tennessee, too, has seen local groups hold meetings in opposition to the standards. But Tennessee’s State Collaborative on Reforming Education, drawn from business and philanthropic communities, has intensified efforts to support the standards.

In Kansas, the tea party-affiliated group FreedomWorks is pressuring the state’s Legislature to cut money for implementing the Common Core. Other states that saw anti-Common Core bills introduced in their legislatures include Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina and South Dakota, a story in the Lawrence Journal-World said. None of the legislation has passed.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill in mid-May that pauses implementation of the Common Core in his state until new public hearings can be held, the Washington Post reported. There will also be a cost analysis done on core implementation. (Costs for implementing education curricula are generally borne by states and districts, sometimes with help from federal grant money. Each state is unique in the ways such costs are managed.)

National voices

Battle lines that fracture along unusual lines are being drawn at the national level as well.

The Washington Post reported that Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has called for a moratorium on use of new standardized tests for evaluating teachers and students based on Common Core standards, though the teacher union supports the Common Core initiative. Schools should wait until the standards are fully implemented to begin using the new tests, Weingarten said, or risk failure for the Common Core state standards because states haven’t had time to teach students material covered by the tests.

But Chiefs for Change, a group of state education officials organized by Jeb Bush, released a statement saying states should move ahead with plans to use the new tests, the story said.

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