MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – Amid the noise surrounding Common Core State Standards in Alabama is the question: Who is in charge of education in our state?
Some may say the Federal government.
To that Alabama State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice has a question of his own:
“I would ask very directly, have you read this? I have yet to have anybody who opposes this that I’ve spoken to, admit they’ve actually read the document,” said Bice.
The Common Core State Standards were formed in an initiative led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It was a state led effort, but Bice believes he knows what sparked national indignation.
“Probably where this thing went awry was when the U.S. Department of Education and the president looked over and said ‘”That looks like a great idea, why don’t we include it in our competitive grants?'” said Bice. “The moment that happened, it changed the dynamic.”
The standards outline what students need to know in math and English each year, but not how they learn it. Contrary to criticisms of the initiative, State and school district officials can choose their own curriculum.
Sitting in his office in Montgomery, Bice drove that point home.
“We’re going to vote this Friday on revisions to those standards, and we haven’t asked permission from anyone outside the state of Alabama, including the U.S. Department of Education or President Obama.”
Mary Scott Hunter, a Board of Education Member representing District 8, has been fiercely criticized for her support of Alabama’s College and Career Readiness standards, which incorporate the Common Core Standards.
“We are going to continue to disagree but I think we need to find a way to find a way to take this so high off the emotion meter and think about this logically,” said Hunter.
She stands by Bice in assuring that nobody outside of Alabama has any say in what students are taught.
“My job is to protect and promote public education in Alabama,” said Hunter. “I will fight, fight, fight any suggestion that these standards should be controlled by anybody but the Alabama state board, it will be nobody else but us.”
As for the people continuing to call for the standards’ repeal, Bice poses this question:
“If not this what would you have us teach? This is math and English language arts and reading. There’s no political agenda here. It’s exactly that.”
An overview of what Alabama College and Career Readiness standards are can be found here on the State Department of Education’s website.