The Georgia Senate took the first step to withdraw from the controversial national education standards known as “Common Core,” passing legislation that would return more control of school curriculum to local authorities.
“Passage of this bill (Tuesday) represents the hard work of many people over the course of two years. This bill is the first major piece of legislation that has passed anywhere in the nation that has allowed the voice of the people to clearly say that national standards are unacceptable,” said Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, who sponsored the proposal. “This bill draws the line in the sand that Georgia will no longer be bound by national standards or the testing of national standards or be obligated to special interests. The people of Georgia, through this legislation, finally can begin to reclaim their educational sovereignty over what their children are taught in public schools. Georgia citizens should never again be shut out of the process as they were when the Common Core was ushered into this state.”
The bill must be passed in the House and considered by the governor, but Ligon said both helped with formulating the proposal.
Senate Bill 167 stipulates a 90-day open comment period and public debate in each of the state’s congressional districts. An 18-member Curriculum Content Standards Advisory Council, which includes parents, professors, teachers and other citizens, will make recommendations on the standards to the State Board of Education. The proposal would give local school systems control on utilizing the Georgia Performance Standards for revising math and English language arts standards over the next two years and would give more flexibility for local districts to sequence, expand or rich the standards.
The bill also gives control of statewide tests and assessments to the state and prohibits authority from going to third parties. It also adds security measures for student records.
“Though I recognize that this is a major milestone today made possible through the efforts of many grassroots activists around the state and through the prayers of many people, the effort has really just begun,” Ligon said. “If this bill passes the House and is signed by the Governor, parents and citizens will have to build on this foundation. They will need to stay engaged in the effort to not only revise Georgia’s content standards in English and math, but also to ensure that their local school districts stop all Common Core instruction and return to curricula aligned to the superior Georgia Performance Standards while the statewide revision of standards takes place. This is a long-term effort, and we must stay the course.”
Locally, Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks is a supporter of Common Core, and has said it could help the country “really improve education.”