“We have a lot of problems in Alabama, but the Common Core is not one of them,” said Spears, a retired educator. “Common Core is a solution, so we really need to support that.”
Spears said the State Council on the Arts asked the Sylacauga Arts Council to join it in taking a stand against a bill introduced in the state legislature to repeal Alabama’s College and Career Ready standards, which includes Common Core standards.
“We’ve never done this before, but people in the state Arts Council said it was extremely important that we take a stand and kill it while it’s in committee,” Spears said. “I encourage you to send a letter to your legislator and tell them how important it is to leave the operations of the schools in the hands of the state Board of Education and local Boards of Education.”
Common Core standards are a new set of K-12 benchmarks for English and math introduced more than a year ago in Alabama schools. According to the state Department of Education, the standards were developed through a state-led initiative with the goal of creating a single set of educational standards to be shared among states. More than 40 states have voluntarily adopted these standards.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, and co-sponsored by others including Sen. Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga, would repeal Common Core until 2017 and reinstate the course of study in place immediately prior to its adoption. According to al.com, Beason said the repeal period would allow time to see how effective the standards are in other states.
However, Spears, who worked in education for 32 years including nine years at the state Department of Education, said repeal is a step in the wrong direction.
“These people want to go back to what we were doing 10 years ago,” Spears said. “There is no way to go back. The world has changed drastically. Our children are not just competing with the people in surrounding areas. We’re competing for jobs worldwide, and we’re going to have to improve, and the Common Core curriculum is one of the best ways I’ve seen to do it.”
He said Common Core has “no business being decided in the legislature by someone who is looking at something other than what is best for children. I don’t think this is any place for politics.”
Renee Riggins, retired Sylacauga superintendent and vice president of the Arts Council, agreed, saying too much has been invested in the new standards to turn back.
“When we first introduced Common Core, the teachers bought in on it,” Riggins said. “Teachers put a lot of time and work on this and a lot of money on professional development. When teachers buy in on it that means a lot, because they’re taking what they learned and putting it back into the school so the children will benefit.”
Riggins said it would “be a shame and disrespectful to all the students and teachers if we go back to what we had. We need to stay with Common Core.”
Spears said local educators, including Superintendent Dr. Todd Freeman, have endorsed Common Core.
“This is what the state Board of Education decides and your local Board of Education, and we need to support that,” he said. “If we’re not careful, we’ll be going backward.”
Contact Emily McLain at firstname.lastname@example.org.