Education Week - June 12, 2013 - (Page 36)

36 EDUCATION WEEK n JUNE 12, 2013 n State Opposition Jeopardizes Common-Core Future Michigan set to halt standards funding By Andrew Ujifusa Activity in states reconsider- ing their adoption of the Common Core State Standards continues to simmer, as some conservative supporters of the initiative increasingly worry that the federal government has become the standards’ worst possible friend. Michigan is set to join Indiana as the second state this year to institute a so-called halt to common-core implementation, but other efforts in statehouses have run out of steam or are still in the early stages. Last week, the Michigan legislature approved a budget that prohibits the state department of education from spending any money to implement the common core and the assessments tied to the new standards. Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican who last month reiterated his support for the common core in an appearance with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, does not have the line-item-veto power to scrap that provision of the bill. As of late last week, the budget was still awaiting Gov. Snyder’s signature. Massive Uncertainty The state common-core spending freeze in Michigan would officially begin Oct. 1. But the provision is set to create massive uncertainty at the local level about what district leaders should do next, officials say. A spokesman for the state education department, Martin Ackley, wrote in an email: “This provision in the bill will leave school boards, administrators, teachers, and parents with no clear direction on how they continue planning their locally developed curricula to meet the state standards.” There would be other major consequences of the legislation, he added, from jeopardizing the state’s federal waiver under the No Child Left Behind Act to reverting to prior tests and content standards. Mr. Ackley said Michigan has not spent “much” on the common core so far, and there is no specific line item for it in the state budget. Activists against the common core in Michigan have said the plan is really to “pause” commoncore implementation and review the standards more carefully. But there is no restart date, so lawmakers would have to pass another bill at some point to revive state spending on the standards, said Amber Arellano, the executive director of the Education TrustMidwest, a research and advocacy group in Royal Oak, Mich., that supports the standards. In her view, it will take Republi- cans, who are divided over the standards but control the legislature, to revive the common-core push. “We haven’t been as a state as proactive as we need to be,” Ms. Arellano said, referring to Michigan’s supporters of common core. Efforts to snuff out or hobble common-core implementation in other states have continued, with varied degrees of success. Kansas lawmakers opposed to the standards first supported legislation requiring the state to drop them. But that bill failed. They then duplicated the Michigan blueprint by attempting to block the use of state funds to implement the Common Core State Standards, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards. That measure passed the state Senate but failed in the House of Representatives. In Wisconsin, the joint committee on finance approved budget language late last month that would require new hearings and a policy review of the standards before implementation could proceed. And in North Carolina, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican, criticized the common core in remarks he posted last week on YouTube. The method of blocking or de- NOW AVAILABLE FROM EDUCATION WEEK PRESS Seismic Shifts. Future Forces. The Sixteen Trends revealed in this benchmark book will have a profound impact on education and our future. d ORDER TODAY! laying the common core through state budgets, instead of complicated stand-alone bills, could be attractive for legislators opposed to the standards “when that 11th-hour horse-trading goes on,” said Michael McShane, a research fellow in education policy studies at the free-marketoriented American Enterprise Institute in Washington. Mr. McShane also pointed to a rising sentiment among some conservative common-core supporters that the Obama administration’s vocal support for the initiative is “actually unbelievably harmful to the common-core effort moving forward.” The National Governors As- “ This provision in the bill will leave school boards, administrators, teachers, and parents with no clear direction ...” MARTIN ACKLEY Michigan Education Department sociation and the Council of Chief State School Officers led the drive to craft the standards, which cover English/language arts and math. Even though anti-common-core efforts at the state level remain relatively small in number, the anxiety over the federal role in promoting them has been years in the making, Mr. McShane said. That sentiment has grown as the standards became a part of Race to the Top applications and NCLB waivers, he said, and then were touted in President Barack Obama’s re-election bid. The rhetoric and policy moves have combined to create political problems in states, particularly for Republican governors who support the common core, because many people fail to see how the federal government could actively support yet not be in charge of the initiative, Mr. McShane said. “At a certain point, the Obama administration and Department of Education sort of saw what was happening, and liked it, and jumped on the bandwagon far too forcefully for many on the right to be able to stomach,” said Mr. McShane. He described himself as a supporter of what he deems the standards’ benefits, yet someone who is concerned about how well they will be implemented. An April proposal from U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to prevent the federal government from using money to develop commoncore assessments or encourage states to use the standards, should actually have the support of many common-core advocates, Michael J. Petrilli, a senior vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, argued in a blog post last month. Who Holds the Reins? But there’s no reason commoncore supporters should want the federal government to depart from its current mode of actively supporting the standards, given the long-term benefits they will provide for the country, said Lucille Davy, a senior adviser at the James B. Hunt Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy in Durham, N.C., who supports the standards. She also said that despite recent headlines, common-core support remains solid across state legislatures. “I see no evidence of the feds taking it over. I was in the room when we talked about this in 2005 and 2006 and 2007,” said Ms. Davy, a former education commissioner in New Jersey, referring to states’ work on standards. But some common-core champions must still confront the uncomfortable truth about who really holds the reins, said Neal McCluskey, the associate director for the Center for Educational Freedom at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington and an opponent of the standards. If states begin to consider breaking from the principles binding the standards together, such as if they use different assessments or cutoff scores, only the federal government has the power to stop such a breakaway, he said—by threatening to withhold K-12 aid, for example. “If you don’t have all those parts together, all this national comparability falls apart,” he said. EXIT STRATEGY: Use an interactive bill-status tracker to explore efforts in state legislatures to limit or withdraw from the Common Core State Standards initiative. billtracker Federal Officials Staying Mum On Expectations CONTINUED FROM PAGE 35 on tests so soon. Anticipating that she would be accused of backing away from accountability, Ms. Weingarten said the moratorium should be confined to the “transitional years,” when school systems are absorbing the required shifts. Chris Minnich, the executive director of the CCSSO, which helped spearhead the common standards effort alongside the nation’s governors, said his members knew months ago that the accountability transition could prove difficult and began discussing it internally. When Ms. Weingarten called for a moratorium, he said, many state chiefs felt they wanted to make their own positions clear. What states need, he said, isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but the room to figure things out in ways that fit them best. “Most states are saying we don’t need a pause or a moratorium,” Mr. Minnich said. “Each state is in a different position, and some need flexibility to be able look at their timelines and be smart about what they are doing. We do agree states need the time to do this well. At the same time, we have come a long way, and we don’t want to lose momentum.” “Nobody is looking for relief from accountability,” said Tom Luna, Idaho’s schools superintendent. Mr. Luna said that while some Idaho schools began commoncore-aligned instruction this academic year, all schools in the state aren’t expected to do so until 2013-14. In contrast, schools in North Caro- lina just completed their first year of such teaching, and the state administered its first round of tests reflecting the common core last month, said schools Superintendent June Atkinson. “That illustrates why states need flexibility,” she said. Navigating the Rules Yet states are subject to an increasingly outdated federal accountability law that’s hardly flexible. The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, calls for annual testing in reading and math in grades 3-8 and once in high school—with a rising set of goals for schools that requires them to get 100 percent of their students to proficiency in those subjects by the end of the 2013-14 school year. As the deadline for reaching those goals gets closer, more schools are expected to fail to meet them, which triggers an escalating set of responses, such as having to provide school choice to students. With new tests, schools likely will fail to make progress at an even faster rate. Only 13 states are still subject to the original NCLB law. Even waivers that the Education Department has awarded to the remaining states don’t leave much wiggle room during the transition to new tests. For instance, the waiver rules

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 12, 2013

Education Week - June 12, 2013
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Obama Plan Champions E-Rate Fixes
States Seek Flexibility on Testing
FOCUS ON: SCHOOL LEADERS: Chicago Initiative Aims to Upgrade Principal Pipeline
Questions Arise About Algebra 2 For All Students
Year-End Exams Add Urgency to Teaching
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Race on to Ready N.Y.C. Teacher Reviews
Districts Turning Summer School Into Learning Labs
Preschools Aim to Better Equip Low-Income Parents
After Early Progress, SIG School Struggles To Improve
Progress, Persistence Seen in Latest Data on Bullying
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: ‘MOOC’ Plan Could Spawn Dual-Enrollment Courses
Virginia Joins Ranks of States Creating State-Run Districts
Blogs of the Week
NCLB Bills Split Over Federal Role in K-12
Policy Brief
States Fold Teaching Into Preschool Rating Factors
Peer Review Quietly Put On Hold For State Assessment Systems
State Opposition Jeopardizes Common-Core Future
OP EDUCATION: Are New Teachers Ready to Teach?
EDWARD CROWE, MICHAEL ALLEN, & CHARLES COBLE: A Good Time for Progress in Teacher Prep
JULIE GORLEWSKI: Teaching Toward Utopia
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
OTIS KRIEGEL: ‘You’ll Get the Hang of It’

Education Week - June 12, 2013