On May 17-18, Republican delegates descended on Athens, Ga. like a herd of elephants. More than 1,600 voting delegates and several hundred guests came to meet candidates, to hear from elected officials, to vote on party leaders, and to do the work of the party concerning rules and resolutions. I had the honor of serving on the State Resolutions Committee for the 7th Congressional District. The purpose of resolutions is to offer elected officials guidance on the policy priorities of the Republican party from the grass-roots level.
The latest education topic in the country these days is Common Core. It was sold quickly, much like Obamacare, in that states had to commit to the national education program before they found out what was in it.
The hottest resolution for the Georgia Republican Party was, likewise, Common Core. Eight of 14 Congressional districts passed resolutions on to the state convention opposing Common Core, and two other districts passed resolutions opposing this nationalization of education in principle. Sen. William Ligon introduced legislation this year, SB 167, to withdraw Georgia from Common Core and the national PARCC testing.
Here are some of the highlights of the "hottest" Republican resolution sent forward to the state convention.
The resolution described how the Common Core agenda to nationalize educational standards, testing and data collection violates the constitutional principle that the control of education is left to the states and the people. Participation in the Race to the Top grant required Georgia to adopt common standards in K-12 English language arts and math and to commit to implementing the aligned assessments developed by a consortium of states with federal money, all without the consent of the people exercised through their legislative branch.
With respect to the alleged "rigor" of the Common Core standards, the resolution recognized that "the Common Core standards have been evaluated by educational experts and were determined to be no better than Georgia's previous performance standards and according to key members of the Validation Committee, the standards were even inferior."
The resolution addressed privacy concerns, stating that "the Race to the Top grant conditions also require the collection and sharing of massive amounts of student-level data through the PARCC agreement, which violates student privacy."
The resolution further recognized that "the push to nationalize standards will inevitably lead to more centralization of education in violation of federalism and local control and violates the spirit of three federal laws" and "will create new tax burdens to pay for enormous unfunded mandates on our state and local school districts."
Given all these problems, the resolution urged withdrawal from Common Core and the PARCC testing, a more open and transparent process for adopting curriculum standards, and strict limits on collecting and sharing student data.
The resolution concluded by stating appreciation for Gov. Nathan Deal's executive order on May 15 that took a step in this direction.
In the Resolutions Committee, the resolution passed overwhelmingly. Unfortunately, no resolutions were considered on the convention floor.
While the resolution did not receive the time it deserved at the convention, a strong message was sent in Athens. A battle is brewing as the backlash against Common Core grows. Citizens are realizing that Common Core standards will ultimately control the curriculum of public schools, charter schools, private schools, religious schools, Catholic schools, and home schools.
There is one thing we all care about and that is our kids. This is the very reason that Common Core was the resolution that needed to be discussed when our party came to do business. This conversation is the one that should have happened in the legislature before any executive branch official signed the Race to the Top grant back in 2010. Bypassing the consent of the governed is always a bad idea because the people will eventually be heard.
Judy Craft is a Gwinnett County resident and served on the State Resolutions Committee at the state GOP convention, representing the 7th Congressional District.