A few weeks ago, in late March, Alabama’s Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh and twenty-two other co-sponsors introduced and passed Senate Bill 119, which would end Alabama’s involvement with Common Core. These nationally aligned standards for K–12 education were adopted voluntarily in Alabama, after being designed by an assemblage of leaders from 48 states (not by the federal government as some people may believe). The process of developing the standards began in late 2007, and after the final product was released in the summer of 2010, Alabama was on board.
As with any large-scale national initiative, there have been massive misconceptions about what Common Core is and does; this passage from a 2018 blog article in Education Week says a lot:
Nearly from the beginning, though, the initiative faced a landmine of incorrect assumptions and half truths, ranging from those rooted in a misreading of the standards (students won’t read fiction anymore!) to the truly bizarre (schools are scanning children’s irises!)
However, cooler heads prevailed, and most states, the District of Columbia, and a few US territories adopted the Common Care standards as the basis for their own state standards.
Adopting the Common Core standards and adapting them into our state’s College and Career Ready Standards meant that Alabama was among a majority of states who embraced this progressive effort. But maybe not anymore. Just as Alabama is one of thirteen states that did not expand Medicaid, one of eight states with no lottery, and one of seven states that allows straight-ticket voting, this bill would have us entering another dubious minority: one of ten states that doesn’t use Common Core standards. The House is now taking up the bill, so we’ll know soon whether Alabama will take another step into further isolation, departing the mainstream of American culture in yet another way.
The repeal of Common Core is a bad idea, because the standards aren’t the problem. The percentage of Alabama students requiring remedial course courses in college dropped from 34.6% to 28% since the standards were implemented. The main problem is funding. Another is a teacher shortage, which has been caused by years of turmoil in the state’s school system. Personally, I’d prefer if we keep the aspect that’s working and fix the actual problems instead.