State Superintendent Of Education Responds To Criticisms Of Common Core

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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.

A breakdown of the specific grade level requirements for math and English can be found by following the links.


  • flyinsulcer

    I’ll tell what I wish they’d teach. Our true history for one. Stop dumbing down our children with standardized tests. Let each child excell at their own pace. Common Core is yet another reason that alot of parents have chosen, and more will, to home school. The history being taught is a lie. It’s glossed over. Teach them to go above what’s in front of them, not to just reach the bare minimum so the schools can get their money. It’s disappointing to see our Alabama officials falling in line with all of this. Open your minds people. Our children aren’t even taught handwriting now.

    • Wake Up

      Oh my gosh! The world is ending!!! Our children are not even taught how to use an abacus anymore!!! Even worse, they are no longer taught the truth about the Earth being the center of the Universe like it says in the Bible!!!! It all started going wrong when we let Galileo get away with teaching his lies! This has gone on too long and must be stopped!

    • Experienced Educator of 29 years

      Common core state standards are only for mathematics and English Language Arts,thus your comment about rewriting history is unfounded.

  • Michael Rhoden

    Wow…what a softball interview. I probably could not expect any more of our local news outlets though. Alabama government is the same as our Federal government…a bunch of spineless no-backbone wusses. Of course, they are not going to do anything about the dangers of Common Core (AND YES THERE ARE MANY DANGERS). Our Governor has said he disagrees with it but refuses to do anything about it. It is the same situation with Obamacare.
    We are going to fail as a state and a nation until someone has some guts to stand by what they say they believe in.

  • Renee Brannon Dailey

    And what are the dangers? This is my 2nd year to teach 6th grade math in one of the first districts to implement the state standards. I have YET to identify ANYTHING that I would call “dangerous”. Is having students APPLY their knowledge instead of doing row after row after row of mind numbing algorithms dangerous? Is teaching Algebra 1 in 6th grade “dangerous”…is teaching the students to THINK dangerous? Please enlighten me as to what is so fatal about this curriculum alignment?

    • Grace

      Fantastic and very intelligent response, Ms. Dailey. Thank you. More teachers who are actually working with the new standards need to speak up so that those who insist on spreading fear and lies will lose their steam.

  • charles harlan

    “if you like your doctor you can keep him”, if you like your current insurance you can keep it”,” alabama will maintain total control over the program”,”maybe we should include this in our competitive grants”. if you really believe that schools that dont follow this scheme precisely will receive the grants they your brain has already been pickled! the past 100+ years have demonstrated that where federal dollars go, federal control goes. BTW nowhere does the bible teach that earth is the center of the universe. if the FEDERAL CONTROL of our schools didnt forbid teaching the bible, then people wouldnt be so ignorant.

  • Lisa

    I have read the standards, Dr. Bice, and I oppose them. No, I am not just an angry parent whose kids’ grades are slipping (they still have straight As). I don’t think the standards are morally corrupting our children. I am not against them because Obama pushed them – heck, I voted for Obama. The statements of Bice are misleading, and the journalist is not neutral. These standards are not state led. The NATIONAL Governors Assoc (which doesn’t even include all governors), the DC-based CCSO, with major funding from the Gates Foundation, are state-centered? When we let politicians and corporations make high-stakes educational decisions that effect every single teacher and student in this country, we are not off to a good start. We are not meeting the needs of individual children. Add in standards that had little influence from teachers and parents and none from child development experts. Now spend millions, if not billions – much to private companies that pushed these standards – on implementation while some schools can’t pay for basic supplies. Surely these standards were field tested before widespread implementation and shown to be effective? Nope. My child knows how to add, but she has to learn 4 different ways to do it and understand the reasoning of every single one- that is bordering on curriculum, IMO. Right now, parents are uneducated and don’t have all the facts. Teachers are afraid to speak out with their concerns. The idea of revisions is interesting – accepting the standards means ALL of them must be taught, and all of them tested on. Do you think they will spend all this money on assessment and related technology and not teach all the standards? The standards’ own guidelines limit states to add a maximum of 15% of their own standards. Schools are already scrambling to find aligned curriculum (from limited, rushed choices), train teachers, update technology and navigate new high-stakes assessments. The 15% not on the test will not be a priority. While I agree with Bice that the Obama administration tying the standards to grant money was a bad move, there is blame to share. Bice asks if not these, then what? Take some initiative. The union are pro-CCSS, so you can’t blame them for blocking standards. Talk to the people who understand and care about kids – teachers, parents and maybe even local school board members. Try out the standards in a few districts. In the meantime,spend money on smaller class sizes, gifted education and proven interventions.

    • Doug

      Where in the standards does it say to add with 100 in four different ways and be fluent in every way? Teachers teach different strategies so that yesindividual students can choose the way at fits them and is easier for them to understand and use. Individualized education which is wha you are calling for. Sounds like you have a bad teacher that is imementing it in the wrong way. It is not a curriculum, it is a guide. It is pretty clear, if a student has mastered a skill on grade level, the teacher should do their best to start teaching that student and others at that level a new skill either on grade level or above grade level. Sounds like your kid just has a bad teacher that doesn’t implement it the way it should be.

  • Miranda

    I am so tired of hearing “College Ready”!! That’s all fine a wonderful. My high school student has had no problems with the change to Common Core. Do I believe there needed to be advancements in education? Yes but when you throw this on our elementary kids, specifically the lower grades K & 1st, how do you expect our children to learn and retain such a rigorous curriculum when they’ve barely even been thought the basics? My child is ADHD and struggled in kindergarten but thanks to a lot of time and patience he excelled and was doing great and liked school. Now every night and every morning is a fight. He cries through out homework time saying he can’t do it and that he is dumb. He hates going to school now and it’s all because he is being constantly worked with so much so that he is burnt out and no matter how long we spend working with him at home or one on one at school when you are teaching a 1st grader With ADHD addition, subtraction and multiplication all at the same time IT’S NOT GOING TO WORK!!! When he finally does start to understand something the next night they’ve moved on to something different. My child is so confused and he actually went to kindergarten. I can’t even fathom how the children who skipped kindergarten (which isn’t required in Alabama) and have had NO introduction into academics are making it. There are children out there who are going to fail kindergarten and 1st grade because of this idiotic curriculum! K & 1st grade should be a time of building up knowledge and building up a love for school. Not breaking kids down to the point that they hate education and that is exactly what common core is doing. What happens when you guys finally get it and realize this was a huge mistake? Then it will be to late! All the children that will fail this school year will not be able to get that back, they will forever be one year behind.

  • Doug

    Again it is not a curriculum. Look up the difference between a curriculum and a standard. Your child’s teacher is teaching incorrectly. They shouldn’t be teaching all of those a the same time. Usually a unit is on one or the other for a week or two focusing on a skill, although that is up to the curriculum (textbook and pacing guide) that the district is using.

  • thunderingson

    I’m the father of a great math student-turned struggling CC math student. CC is a joke. My wife was a math major and is a budget analyst, and even WE don’t know what to make of that nonsensical garbage. The liberal ideologues who are either being nothing more than one liner-tossing children in here, or those who wear the tinted glasses in the teaching profession, are not helping. CC is a monumental step backwards, and should be immediately repealed. The superintendent is such an ideologue, so why would anyone believe this drivel?

  • Alan

    The CC template is very subliminal. It takes classic literature and uses it as a conduit to modern liberal cinema and TV where it is twisted into one of the hot-button arguments of the day. Then conservative groups are inserted as the bad racists. (i.e the perversion of Shelley’s “Frankenstien”).

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