UPDATES SENATE REPORT
UPDATES SENATE REPORT
Georgia Senate Passes Bill to Withdraw from National “Common Core” Standards
ATLANTA (February 25, 2014) | The Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 167 today by a vote of 34-16. Sponsored by Sen. William Ligon (R - Brunswick), this legislation provides an approach for withdrawing from the national education standards known as “Common Core” and specifies new protections for student privacy.
"Passage of this bill today 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," stated Sen. Ligon. "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."
"I want to thank the many citizens around the state and people in leadership who have been willing to come to the table and work with me on this legislation. There is quite a long list of people, but I personally am indebted to my friend, Sen. Lindsey Tippins, the Senate Education Chairman, who has stood with me the entire way. I appreciate Governor Nathan Deal and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, along with their staff, who have reached out to me and were willing to offer assistance with the bill. I also appreciate House leadership working on the bill in advance and look forward to it being passed in the House of Representatives."
SB 167 helps returns control to Georgia’s citizens by creating an open and transparent public process for the adoption of content standards. The process will include a 90 -day open comment period and public debate in each of the congressional districts throughout the state. In addition, an 17-member Curriculum Content Standards Advisory Council, composed of parents, university professors, K-12 teachers, and other citizens along with additional working subcommittees of K-12 teachers, curriculum specialists, and other knowledgeable citizens, will review public input and make recommendations on the standards to the State School Board. The effort will begin with math standards, so that those standards are completed in one year's time.
The legislation gives school systems local control through the option of utilizing the previous Georgia Performance Standards as the process of revising math and English language arts standards occurs over the next two years. Even after the revised standards are completed, the legislation offers more flexibility for local districts to sequence, expand, and enrich the standards in ways that better suit the educational needs of their students and local communities.
In addition, SB 167 requires all statewide tests and assessments to be solely controlled by the State of Georgia, requires the Department of Education to inform the Georgia General Assembly of the long-term effects of any educational grant, and prohibits officials from relinquishing constitutional authority over standards and testing to third parties.
SB 167 also enforces higher student privacy controls by outlining limited categories of data that can be collected and disclosed without parental consent and prohibits the use of student records for commercial purposes. State agencies, local school districts, and educational institutions must disclose the nature of information collected and also provide parental access to these records. Any funds used for building or maintaining data systems for student records may not be used beyond students’ K-12 and college enrollment years.
"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," added Sen. Ligon. "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."
Senate Bill 167 will now transfer to the House of Representatives for consideration.
February 21, 2014
After suspending business last week for the severe winter weather that hit northern portions of our state, the Georgia General Assembly was back at work and busier than ever this past week. On Friday, February 21, the legislature fulfilled day 26 of the 2014 session, which means Day 30, or Crossover Day, is right around the corner. This important milestone in the legislative process marks the last day that a bill can pass to the opposite chamber.
Throughout the week, the Georgia General Assembly held a series of appropriations meetings to discuss our state’s budgetary concerns and conducted a careful line-by-line review of our state’s Fiscal Year 2015 General Budget. The Appropriations Committee will soon give its report to the Senate at which time we will vote on the Governor's proposed budget recommendations.
As for Senate action this past week, I was able to present Senate Bills 336 and 337, which both passed on Tuesday. Across the state, some of our businesses had been assessed with unreasonable financial penalties for small infractions by regulatory agencies. After looking into the situation, I found that barber shops and hair salons could incur fines on a first offense that was as much as what a drunk driver may be fined. If signed into law, SB 336 would ensure that the Board of Cosmetology could not impose high dollar fines on licensed cosmetologists for the first or even second violation. Instead, if this bill becomes law, penalties cannot exceed $25 for the first violation, $75 for the second and $300 for each subsequent violation. SB 337 provides the same limitations on penalties to the Board of Barbers. Both boards currently have the ability to revoke, suspend or deny a license.
On Thursday, Senate Bill 167, which I sponsored, received unanimous support from the Senate Education and Youth Committee. This bill is a combined substitute of both SB 167 (Student Right to Privacy Act) and SB 203 (An Act to Restore Educational Authority to Georgia Citizens). The legislation provides an orderly process for Georgia to move away from its experiment with national standards, currently known as the "Common Core," and limits the collection and sharing of student data. The bill also provides new protections for the privacy of students in order to prevent life-long data tracking.
A key feature of the bill is the public and transparent process for adopting first-class education standards so that control is returned to Georgia citizens. As part of the new process, the bill language provides for a Content Standards Advisory Council that would require participation from the different congressional districts throughout the state. The council would include parents, university professors, and other citizens. This council will use additional sub-committees comprised of K-12 teachers and curriculum specialists to work on curriculum standards at the various grade levels, and through a detailed public process, the council would receive public comments statewide over a 90-day period and make recommendations to the State Board of Education on revisions to the core curriculum content standards. Priority is given to revising math standards so that revisions would be complete within one year's time.
In addition, the bill language allows local school districts a choice to return to curriculum and instruction that aligns with the former Georgia Performance Standards or other standards, including the flexibility to use discreet math, while the statewide revision process occurs. After the process is completed, it will still allow local flexibility to enhance or modify standards so that parents and teachers can have meaningful input at the local level about what is taught in the classroom. The bill requires that all statewide assessments be solely controlled by the State of Georgia, requires the Department of Education to inform the General Assembly of the long-term effects of any grant, and prohibits State officials from ceding any measure of the people's constitutional authority over standards and testing to third parties.
Additionally, Senate Bill 167 outlines the limited categories of data that can be collected and disclosed without parental consent. It also prohibits the use of any student records for commercial purposes. The bill ensures that state agencies, local school districts, and educational institutions must disclose the nature of the information they collect on students and provide parents access to these records. It also prohibits the use of funds for building and maintaining any data system that is designed to systematically collect records on students beyond their K-12 and college education.
In other Senate news, Senate Resolution 747 passed unanimously out of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee on Thursday. SR 747 encourages Congress to enact legislation to repeal or amend the Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act. In July 2012, the U.S Congress adopted this Act to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to alter the operation and funding mechanisms governing the National Flood Insurance Program. However, FEMA’s failure to implement these changes has caused unanticipated increases in flood insurance premiums. The resolution urges a complete repeal of this act and calls upon legislators to investigate strategies to make flood insurance premiums more affordable to home owners and businesses, especially those living along Georgia’s coastal areas.
GEORGIA STATE SENATOR