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Senator Opposes Watering Down of Common Core Bill
Wednesday, 12 March 2014

March 12--  A south Georgia state senator who opposes further use of the Common Core curriculum in public schools believes changes to his bill by the House Education Committee render it ineffective.

Sen. William Ligon ( R-Brunswick) has released the following statement in response to potential changes offered to Senate Bill 167:

“When I entered the effort to withdraw Georgia from the national Common Core standards, I knew it would be an uphill struggle. Last year's legislation required a full statewide withdrawal and failed to get out of Senate Education and Youth Committee. This year, we had an initial opportunity to sit down with Senate and House leadership, as well as the Governor's Office, to reach a consensus to include the option for local school systems to return to instruction and curriculum aligned with the former Georgia Performance Standards while the standards review process was underway. Upon our agreement, SB 167 passed the Senate.

“Since that time, big business interests and the top leadership of educational lobby groups have mischaracterized the bill language. Now, potential changes are being considered to the bill. Although I listened to their ideas and arguments, and even agree on a few on their points, there are some principles that must be included in the bill:

1.         We must make it clear that Georgia will not continue down the road of national standards.

2.         We must allow local districts flexibility to align their curriculum and instruction to the former and more superior Georgia Performance Standards while the standards revision process is taking place.

3.         The Council must have a majority of parents. Teachers are already involved in the standards process through the Department of Education internal review which is underway even now. The bill already required teachers to be included on the sub-committees. The Council was intended to provide parents an opportunity to have a strong voice in the process.

4.         While the data section of the bill can still provide a good starting point, we must ensure our students are protected from corporate data mining. We must prohibit the collection of personally identifiable data by third parties, done so outside the bounds of any contract, which often happens in the virtual world of free educational software applications.

5.         Finally, throughout this process, I have advocated in meetings and have received requests from a local school system superintendent for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences for teachers. Though the Department of Education does not want to risk the one-year NCLB waiver, which requires 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation to be linked to student test results, this entire process is based on questionable science and shortchanges teachers. At the very least, while we are revising the deficient Common Core standards, the State should allow local districts to use test results in an advisory capacity only so that our teachers would know how they may fare under this new evaluation system once new standards and assessments are in place.”




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