Michigan legislators launch bipartisan effort to repeal Common Core

Lansing, Mich. – Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, will be joined next week by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in introducing legislation to repeal so-called “Common Core” educational standards in Michigan. So far, fifteen Republican state representatives and two southeast Michigan Democrats – House Democratic Caucus Whip Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, and Rep. Harvey Santana, D-Detroit – are joining Glenn as cosponsors of the measure set to be introduced March 3rd to allow other lawmakers time to join the effort. Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, will introduce identical legislation in the state Senate.

“Michigan’s school students deserve the best standards, based on proven results,” Glenn said during a noon news conference attended by dozens of parents, educators, school board members, and lawmakers supporting the legislation. “Michigan students deserve better than to have their futures serve as an experiment with untested, unproven standards that have produced no evidence of actually helping students learn.”

Under the proposed legislation:

* Common Core standards and testing would be eliminated in their entirety, replaced by the standards that were in place in Massachusetts prior to Common Core.

* Local school boards would be free to adjust the standards, and after five years, the state Board of Education would be authorized to do the same.

* Parents would be free to opt their child out of any class, instruction, or testing.

* The state and local schools would be prohibited from collecting data regarding an individual student’s values, attitudes, beliefs, and personality traits, or the student’s family’s political or religious affiliations or views.

* Test questions used by public schools would be made easily available to the public.

Glenn said a work group of education reform advocates in Michigan and nationally determined over the last year that the best educational standards in the nation – based on superior student performance in multiple categories of testing -- were the standards used by Massachusetts prior to the national move to adopt Common Core.

He cited a 2014 report by Business Leaders of Michigan which found, for example, that in measurements of student performance in 4th grade reading (p. 34), 8th grade math (p.35), and career and college readiness (p. 36-7), Massachusetts students scored highest in the nation while Michigan students scored in the bottom half of the states. (See full report: http://goo.gl/ba07im)

Sandra Kahn, a retired public school teacher and past president of the Michigan Federation of Republican Women, introduced Glenn, noting that Michigan Republican Party state conventions and the Republican National Committee have adopted resolutions opposing adoption of Common Core standards.

Rachel Torres, a third grade teacher in the Farmington Public Schools, addressed specific examples of what she said were age and development-inappropriate questions posed to her students during Common Core-aligned testing. She described the frustration and disappointment expressed by even her most talented students as a result. Torres said she was speaking at the news conference with the support of her principal and fellow teachers.

Brenda Battle Jordan, dean of the Westwood Heights School Board, criticized Common Core for subjecting students to what she described as political bias and unproven methods for teaching math. “As a person on the front lines with children,” Battle Jordan said, “I know passage of this legislation cannot happen to soon. Our children are counting on us.”

Heidi Campbell, a member of the Algonac Public Schools board, also spoke during the event, with the blessing of the district’s superintendent, she said, who asked her to highlight the unfunded mandates and intensive testing schedule under Common Core that leaves little time for actual teaching.

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Sponsors of the legislation as of Wed., Feb. 24th:

Rep. Gary Glenn

Rep. Robert Kosowski

Rep. Peter Lucido

Rep. Lee Chatfield

Rep. Martin Howrylak

Rep. Pat Somerville

Rep. Thomas Hooker

Rep. Joel Johnson

Rep. Triston Cole

Rep. Dan Lauwers

Rep. Bruce Rendon

Rep. Phil Potvin

Rep. Jim Tedder

Rep. Lana Theis

Rep. Ken Goike

Rep. Jim Runestad

Rep. Harvey Santana

Rep. Jason Sheppard