Posted by: Jared Heath, content manager

Alabama State Board of Education recently voted on whether or not to rescind their participation in the Common Core Standards. After heavy campaigning against the new Standards, a campaign supported by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, the board voted 6-3 in favor of the Standards.

Governor Bentley’s argument against the Common Core was that each state should set its own Standards. The problem with that argument is that each state has had the opportunity to review the Standards and accept them or defer. Because the Standards are not (or at least were not originally) compulsory, the widespread acceptance of the Standards attests to their quality.

But the dust has still not settled on a tumultuous educational landscape. Now that the state will continue to follow the Common Core Standards, the board must turn to another pressing issue: choosing a new state superintendent.

Former State Superintendent Joseph “Joe” Morton served in that role for 11 years and has been in education for 42 years. On the docket are three candidates: Tommy Bice, Craig Pouncey, and Mark Bounds. Each candidate was questioned about the Common Core Standards, and each spoke in the affirmative—owing in large part, no doubt, to the board’s recent decision to retain the Standards. But nodding heads do not guarantee support and implementation.

According to this article, Mark Bounds emphasizes the need to seriously prepare students for technical jobs and appreciates the “career” part of “college and career readiness.” Tommy Bice, who has served on a committee to research the Standards, maintains that the Common Core is “a worthwhile endeavor for students in our state” and expresses regret that the US DOE has included the Standards in their own Race to the Top program. Pouncey also spoke of the importance of preparing students for the workforce.

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That’s three for three among the candidates. But let’s consider the landscape: the state governor has been opposed to the Standards for some time, and the state has also been without a superintendent since August 31 of this year. The first half of this school year is rapidly coming to a close (Christmas is in 6 weeks!), and the state has not even been sure that the Standards would last. How far can we assume that integration has come in Alabama? How will the new state superintendent be able to bring teachers up to date on Common Core integration when the entire state seems to be coming late to the table?

I, for one, am glad that the candidates at least expressed a positive outlook. The news and blogs show a great deal of skepticism surrounding the Standards. The fault is not necessarily that of the Standards themselves; but the word “standards” now carries such negative connotation that the new superintendent will find himself facing an uphill battle with even more opponents to fight: apathy and negativity have now joined with a small timeframe, low budgets, and a less-than-enthusiastic governor in the efforts to integrate the Common Core.

Messieurs Bounds, Bice, and Pouncey, my hat is off to you. Those of us in the education sphere are watching you, because what you do can have a more powerful effect on our outlook on education than perhaps anyone else right now.

 

 

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