Common Core Debate Resurfaces in House

Bob Kefgen's picture

Unfortunately, the debate over Michigan's academic content standards is heating up again in Lansing. This week, the House Committee on Michigan Competitiveness took up HB 4192 for debate, though did not vote on it. Anti-Common Core advocates abounded, though a roughly equal number of educators and other supporters of the current state standards spoke in opposition to the bill. No hearing is expected next week, but the bill is expected to reappear within the next month.

The Bill

HB 4192 is a reintroduction of legislation that first surfaced last session. It is an extreme and poorly written piece of legislation that would force Michigan to abandon both our current standards AND ASSESSMENTS. Instead, the legislation would force the state to adopt the 2008-2009 standards and assessments from Massachusetts. In addition to these provisions, the legislation would:

  • Require the state to administer the exact same state assessment (the 2008-2009 MA assessment) for the next 5 years running without revision.
  • Require the state to make public the questions and answers for the state assessment after every administration.
  • Force MDE to wait 5 years, then develop completely new state standards, but in doing so, they would be prohibited from adopting OR ALIGNING any future standard or standards to any multi-state consortium standard or standards.
  • Prohibit the use of any assessment that is aligned to any multi-state consortium standard or standards.
  • Create a parent opt-out that would allow parents to opt students out of any public school activity, practice or testing with no repercussions.

The Implications

While many Principals have been hoping for item-level analysis of the state assessment for many years, how the legislature envisions the rest of this legislation could possibly function is unclear. As currently written, the parent opt-out would prevent schools from enforcing graduation requirements, course content standards, or even homework requirements. Arguably, the legislation would also prohibit the state from adopting even a single standard that is included in the Common Core. And tests such as the SAT, ACT, or NWEA, which have made efforts to realign to the Common Core would be prohibited.

The Politics and Next Steps

Over the next several weeks and months, we expect to see multiple committee hearings to discuss legislation HB 4192 and a similar Senate Bill (SB 81). With all of the transition that schools have already gone through with our state standards and assessments, including the shift from the ACT to the SAT, schools should not be forced to endure another shift just so the legislature can make a political point.

It is possible that the debate over this legislation is political posturing, but we must take it seriously. To that end, MASSP is working with a coalition of partners to fight this legislation. Other education associations, teachers unions, education advocacy groups, and representatives from the business community are collaborating in this effort.

Earlier this week, MASSP reached out to members to ask that you take 5 minutes to answer a few brief questions about what the constant shift in standards means in your building. MASSP intends to use this empirical data to illustrate this point to lawmakers.

In the coming weeks, we will also be putting out an alert to members to ask you to email your local lawmakers on this issue. And, as always, stay tuned to Twitter and Weblines for continued updates on this legislation as it moves forward.