Part two: Senate hearing on national education standards likely this week
The next legislative step for the Common Core educational standards likely will take place Wednesday afternoon in Lansing.
That's when a special joint meeting of the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12, School Aid Education is scheduled examine the issue.
The "Common Core State Standards" resolution (HCR 11) passed easily in the House last week on an 85-21 vote. HCR 11 would authorize the state to move toward the implementation of the standards under certain conditions set forth in the resolution.
Common Core standards were adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010, but the debate about implementing them has waged on since then. Supporters and opponents have lobbied legislators, education experts and the public a variety of ways. They've turned to social media, newspaper articles and columns and radio interviews over the last few months to make their point.
In a Sept. 22 column in the Detroit Free Press, Chester E. Finn Jr., a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and chairman of the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, and Michael J. Petrelli, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution who specializes in education, wrote that Common Core was good for conservatives.
Finn and Petrelli said conservatives should "declare victory" because they say Common Core follows six conservative principles fiscal responsibility, accountability, school choice, competitiveness and innovation and traditional education values.
"Common Core demands accountability, high standards, and testing — not the low expectations and excuses that many politicians and the establishment have permitted," Finn and Petrelli wrote. "The core standards are pegged at a high level, which will bring a healthy dose of reality to the education-reform conversation."
"We understand that many conservatives are justifiably angry about the inappropriate role the Obama administration has played in encouraging the adoption of the Common Core through its Race to the Top program," they wrote in the Free Press. "But the standards were developed by the states, and implementation is unquestionably a state effort, not a federal one. We see the Common Core as a great conservative triumph. They don't give in to moral relativism, blame-America-first, or so many other liberal nostrums that have infected our public schools."
Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, disagrees. He has been vocal in his opposition to HCR 11, and has stated his objections to it during appearances on radio stations.
"I can't predict whether the vote will be up or down, but I think it will be close," Sen. Jones told Michigan Capitol Confidential. "I can tell you that there is a lot of opposition out there from a variety of people."
Gov. Rick Snyder supports the Common Core standards, as does a large bipartisan coalition of groups, some of which have generally disagreed on other education issues in the past.
Sen. Jones said the lack of local control is one of the main reasons he opposes the Common Core standards.
"I believe we need some statewide standards but I don't believe we want something that came down from the federal level," he said. "I don’t believe we need Common Core. A lot of people try to compare us to other nations that basically take students when they are very young and place them in what we might consider as vocational training. Comparing what they do to our education system is really like trying to compare apples to oranges.
"For the most part, I think we do a pretty good job of teaching our children," Sen. Jones continued. "We do have serious problems in our inner cities. But a lot of those problems have more to do with issues outside of the classroom, such as safety. As a former sheriff I believe providing a safe way for students to get to and from school should be at the forefront of our efforts."