Alabama legislators oppose national educational standards

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February 26, 2013


By Andy Marshall

MONTGOMERY, Alabama:Republican legislators have introduced bills in both the Alabama House of Representatives and the Senate to repeal part of the state's educational curriculum and prevent the sharing of teacher and student information with the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). On February 12, 2013, Senator Dick Brewbaker introduced Senate Bill 190 and Representative Jim Barton introduced the identical House Bill 254. Their bills would overturn the Alabama Board of Education's 2010 adoption of the voluntary math and English Common Core standards, a national set of curriculum standards developed by the National Association of Governors and the Council of Chief State School Officers and used by USDE in determining some grant awards. Governor Robert Bentley (R) opposed the initial 2010 decision of the Alabama Board of Education to approve the Common Core standards, but his request as governor-elect for a delay to study the issue more was rejected by the board. SB190/HB254 would also ban the state from funding the Statewide Longitudinal Tracking System, a system presently funded with USDE grants to help states monitor and analyze student performance, and ban the state from sharing anything beyond the minimally required data about students and teachers with USDE except for grant applications. The bill would also prevent the state Board of Education from ceding authority to any outside agency without legislative approval.[1]

Brewbaker has argued that his bill would prevent increased federal interference in the Alabama educational system and that data should not be shared with USDE because "they want all this attitudinal data about how kids feel about things, because they’ve got a bigger a agenda than just academics." In a February 25 response to assertions by Brewbaker and others about the current state of data-sharing, Malissa Valdes-Hubert, Public Information Manager for the Alabama Board of Education, stated that Alabama does not presently share any data connected to the Common Core standards with USDE. Additionally, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, Alabama is one of seven states which does not allow access to individual student records.[2]

HB 254 has been assigned to the House's Education Policy Committee, and SB190 has been assigned to the Senate's Education Committee for further action.[3] All states except Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia have adopted the Common Core standards. Alabama would become the sixth state without these standards if HB254/SB190 becomes law.[4]

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