MONTGOMERY, Ala. – On Thursday, the Alabama State Senate voted to repeal the controversial Common Core curriculum used as a standard for public schools across the country. The bill calls for the State Board of Education to “replace the Common Core Standards for Math and English Language Arts with new curriculum standards adopted by the board, effective beginning with the 2021-2022 school year.”
The official synopsis of Senate Bill 119 continues, “This bill would further protect state and local control of education by restricting the State Board of Education from adopting or implementing any other national standards from any source or requiring the use of any assessments aligned with them.”
Within the bill itself, its author and supporters argued that the Memorandum of Agreement that brought Common Core to Alabama “ceded control of Alabama's standards to entities other than the state and local educational agencies, and declared that the collection of personal data concerning students of Alabama public schools would not be collected or compiled.”
Amendment proposed by Gudger
As the bill moved around the Senate floor between Mar. 19 and Mar. 21, senators began to hear concerns from their constituents, especially educators. Freshman Senator Garlan Gudger brought some of those concerns to his colleagues during the discussion, introducing a package of amendments that was not intended to stop the repeal, but to slow it down long enough for the State Board of Education to think through and organize its next move.
Said Gudger, “If we’re going to pass something that affects every education system in the state, and impacts every teacher and every student, and obviously the families of those students and teachers; then we needed to make sure that that bill was strengthened and was diligently thought out.
“From the concerns that I was receiving immediately, when this bill was dropped, from superintendents, parents, teachers, school board members throughout the state, and friends that were in the education system, I realized there were some overwhelming issues that needed to be addressed.”
The original text of the bill called for a reversion at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year of academic standards to those of the 2011/12 school year, reading, “This bill would require the State Board of Education to replace the Common Core Standards for Math and English Language Arts with the courses of study for Math and English Language Arts in place immediately prior to adoption of the Common Core Standards, pending the adoption of new standards by the board.”
An amendment proposed by Gudger and approved by an overwhelming majority of senators changed that text to read:
“This bill would require the State Board of Education to replace the Common Core Standards for Math and English Language Arts with new curriculum standards adopted by the board, effective beginning with the 2021-2022 school year.”
In essence, Gudger’s amendment allows the state’s public schools to continue under the current Common Core standards for two more years while the State Board of Education works out the details for a new set of state standards.
A clause on the last full page of the bill originally read:
“The Legislature further prohibits the adoption or implementation of any national standards from any source, or the use of any assessments aligned with them, that cede control of Alabama educational standards in any manner, including, but not limited to, the Next Generation Science Standards, History Standards, Social Studies Standards, or Sexuality Standards.”
Gudger’s amendment leaves that statement intact, but adds to the end of the clause:
“Nothing in this act shall be construed to affect, prohibit, or inhibit the use of any of the following tools, standards, or certifications in the public K-12 schools: Any college entrance examination, workforce skills assessment or examination, advanced placement course, career technical credential, national board certification, academic language therapy certification, Praxis or other core academic skills for educators test, armed service vocational aptitude test, or International Baccalaureate standard.”
Gudger told The Tribune that the last amendment assures that the bill, if passed into law, will not affect:
- college entrance exams
- workforce skills assessments
- advanced placement courses
- career technical credentials
- national board certifications
- academic language therapy certification
- Praxis or other educator testing
- armed services vocational aptitude testing
- international Baccalaureate standards
On Thursday evening, Gudger spoke to The Tribune from his office in Montgomery, telling us, “Without those (amendments), I was going to be a no vote. I needed to add those amendments there after talking to my superintendents, principals, and some other people around in the education world here at the state level.
“My whole background is education in my family–not me personally–but my sisters, my mother, and my father. And I definitely have a deep-rooted education background as far as my family goes; and so, if I wouldn’t have put those in there and voted for it, I think Dad would have came alive and beat me.”