Sen. Ligon Holds Press Conference to Discuss Removal of Common Core Curriculum Standards
ATLANTA (February 28, 2013) - Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) held a press conference today to discuss Senate Bill 167. Sen. Ligon sponsored this legislation to withdraw Georgia from its participation in the Common Core State Standards Initiative and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) were adopted on July 8, 2010 under Governor Sonny Perdue’s administration as part of the state’s efforts to comply with the Federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant. The Common Core represents the first attempt at nationalized curriculum standards in math and English language arts (ELA) for grades K - 12. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is responsible for the development of assessments that will be aligned to the Common Core.
“Though I am sure the previous administration had the best of intentions when deciding to apply for Race to the Top, the lack of accountability to the parents and taxpayers of this state is stunning,” said Sen. Ligon. "First of all, there has been no thorough cost analysis of what the unfunded mandates will cost Georgia's taxpayers at either the state or the local level to implement and maintain the terms of the grant."
"Secondly, allowing a consortium of states to work with non-profits and other unaccountable parties to develop our standards without open public oversight is untenable in a country of free people, especially considering that Georgia's taxpayers support K-12 education with $13 billion of hard-earned dollars every year," Sen. Ligon explained. "Georgia needs to have a transparent, democratic process of developing curriculum standards and a means to ensure more direct accountability at the local level. Our educational system should not be accountable to Washington bureaucrats, but to the people of this state who pay the taxes and to the parents who have children in our public schools."
Lending his voice of support to the effort, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle stated, "The most important task we face each Legislative Session is finding ways to strengthen and reform the education of Georgia's children. I believe that Georgians know best how to educate our children - not Washington, D.C. bureaucrats. I look forward to working with Senator Ligon on this important issue to ensure that we’re able to continue making decisions about the education of our children right here in Georgia rather than having curriculum standards enforced from Washington, D.C.”
Sen. Ligon’s proposed legislation, Senate Bill 167, addresses withdrawal from the current implementation of the national math and English language arts standards, and prevents the Department of Education from adopting future standards without input from the citizens of Georgia. In addition, the legislation ensures that Georgia does not forfeit control of curriculum standards to outside entities.
Another provision of the bill addresses privacy concerns. SB 167 prohibits the Department of Education from sharing personally identifiable student and teacher information with the federal government except in well-defined circumstances, some of which would require notification to parents and to teachers. In addition, the bill forbids the Department of Education from sharing any personally identifiable information with entities outside the state, such as non-profits, and limits what can be shared inside the state to educational entities only. Further, no educational institution can use the data to develop commercial products or services or transfer that information to other entities, such as the labor department for workforce planning.
“Unfortunately, measures to protect the privacy of Georgia's citizens require additional vigilance due to the fact that the U.S. Department of Education has gutted federal student-privacy law through regulations implemented a year ago,” said Sen. Ligon. “Here in Georgia, I believe it is our legislative duty to protect the privacy of our citizens, especially our children, according to the original spirit of the law passed by Congress.”
During the press conference, Sen. Ligon was joined by several key education policymakers and stakeholders including, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the Common Core Validation Committee and as senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education; Ze’ev Wurman, a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution and former Senior Adviser at the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development in the U.S. Department of Education; Jane Robbins, a Harvard-trained attorney and Senior Fellow with the American Principles Project; and Dr. Jim Arnold, Superintendent of Pelham City Schools, GA.
In addition, a number of grassroots organizations pledged their support for SB 167 and were present to offer feedback regarding the removal of Georgia’s Common Core Program. These groups include organizations such as Concerned Women for America, Americans for Prosperity, American Principles Project, Georgia Conservatives in Action, Citizen Impact, the Conservative Leadership Coalition, the Georgia Republican Assembly, among others.
Senate Bill 167 has been assigned to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.
Bill Would Withdraw Georgia from Common Core
Joy Pullmann <http://news.heartland.org/joy-pullmann>
February 15, 2013
A lawmaker has filed a bill that would withdraw Georgia from Common Core national education standards and prohibit personal information that tests collect from being shared outside the state.
This makes Georgia the eighth state to formally reconsider the Common Core, a list defining what K-12 tests and curriculum must cover in math and English. Forty-five states adopted the Core, nearly all within three months in 2010.
“What has really been surprising to me is how many of our legislators had no idea Georgia was doing this,” bill author and state Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) told School Reform News. “Such a huge tremendous policy shift was not vetted by the legislature, not vetted by the people in the state.”
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Ligon: Common Core Sacrifices Sovereignty
Sen. William Ligon
May 7, 2013
Perhaps never before in American history has K-12 education experienced such a huge shift from local to federal control. The Race to the Top grant process bypassed a fundamental principle of constitutional government, “the consent of the governed.”
This grant was developed entirely within the federal executive branch, and state executive branch officials unilaterally committed to the mandates of the RTTT grant - including adoption of Common Core standards, even though the standards were not yet written, the tests undeveloped, and the costs unknown.
Bypassing legislative bodies violates the very foundation of this constitutional republic. The legislative branch is the branch of government that reflects the will of the people.
Across the nation, people are realizing they have been excluded from exercising one of their most treasured rights: the right to control the education of their children.
Nationwide, vigorous objections to RTTT mandates include the questionable quality of unpiloted Common Core standards, the expensive testing component, the collection and sharing of personal information on students, the unproven teacher-evaluation system, the increased taxation that will be necessary to cover unfunded mandates, and the fact that the Common Core violates the spirit, if not the letter, of laws prohibiting federal direction of curriculum.
Currently, the Common Core represents uniform standards in mathematics and English language arts, and other standards are in the pipeline. Though talking points claim the effort was “state-led,” actual input from the states was minimal, at best - and in the case of the legislatures, non-existent.
The funding for Common Core came largely from the Gates Foundation to two private trade associations, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, along with their affiliated group, Achieve, Inc.
In turn, these groups designated three main writers for math standards and three for ELA standards. How anyone was actually chosen is still a mystery.
So much for transparency, public accountability, and claims of a state-led effort.
The Georgia Senate Education and Youth Committee recently heard from education experts who warned of the dangers of the Common Core. Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, a leading expert on ELA standards and a member of the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the ELA standards because of what she called their “empty-skill sets.”
The Common Core math standards are similarly deficient. James Milgram of Stanford University, the only mathematician on the validation committee, refused to sign off on them, concluding that students would be about two years behind students in other countries by eighth grade.
The claim that the Common Core is more rigorous than Georgia’s previous standards does not hold up well. Even the Fordham Institute, paid $1 million by the Gates Foundation to compare standards across the nation, gave Georgia’s former ELA and math standards the same overall rating as the Common Core. Yet, Georgia’s executive branch was willing to trade the state’s sovereignty over education to unaccountable Washington, D.C., bureaucrats and trade associations for a mere $400 million doled out over four years.
Grant terms prohibit Georgia from changing or deleting any standard, and limit the state to adding only 15 percent to them. When state taxpayers pay more than $13 billion in local and state taxes every year for K-12 education, how can their elected officials possibly concede their right to control educational standards?
Contrary to the conventional wisdom in Washington that only D.C. elites are competent to manage our lives (and our children), I believe what our founders believed: that liberty is best preserved when control is exercised close to home.
In no area is this truth more fundamental than the education of our children. As control over education has become increasingly centralized over the last 40 years, education has deteriorated. Are we to believe that the solution to this problem is even more centralization in Washington?
My bill to withdraw Georgia from Common Core, the aligned assessments, and the intrusive data-tracking on students is part of the movement to reassert our constitutional autonomy over education.
The prevailing sovereignty of the states in matters of K-12 education both reflects and promotes the common sense competence of the people. To weaken that sovereignty will, over time, undermine self-rule and individual initiative as well as the education of our children.
ATLANTA (August 5, 2013) - Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) released two reports Monday, one regarding math and the other on English language arts, which compare the Common Core Standards to Georgia's previous Performance Standards. The independent analysis on the math standards was provided by Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao, a 25-year veteran of math instruction who teaches mathematics and science education at Mercer University's Tift College. Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and a former member of the Common Core Validation Committee, provided the analysis on the English language arts standards.
"Now that Georgia has withdrawn from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), I believe the next step in our efforts to exit the national Common Core framework must turn to the standards themselves," stated Sen. Ligon. "I am encouraged that Dr. John Barge and Governor Nathan Deal jointly agreed to exit PARCC, but until Georgia reclaims control over all facets of our educational system, including our standards as well as testing, our citizens cannot exercise their full constitutional authority over education."
The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) were adopted on July 8, 2010 under Governor Sonny Perdue’s administration as part of the State’s efforts to comply with the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant. The Common Core represents the first attempt at nationalized curriculum standards in math and English language arts (ELA) for grades K - 12. The PARCC is one of the consortia responsible for the development of assessments that will be aligned to the Common Core.
"State officials and their personnel knew early on that Georgia was one of the nine states that already had standards as good as or better than Common Core. That analysis was provided by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which in fact is a pro-Common Core organization which received Gates Foundation funds to perform that study. Even so, Georgia's standards fared very well under their analysis," stated Sen. Ligon. "However, I wanted to know just how satisfactory or how deficient Common Core standards are compared to what Georgia already had. I sought out two content experts who were willing to perform the study. What they found is eye-opening and proves that Georgia made a very bad deal when it traded in our former standards for Common Core."
The math report summary shows that important mathematical concepts have been removed in the elementary grades: (1) data-analysis tools such as mean, median, mode, and range; (2) the concept of pi, including area and circumference of circles; and (3) division of a fraction by a fraction, which is a key component to number sense.
Throughout the math standards, the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic (prime factorization) is gone completely. Other missing concepts include (1) geometry - two of the five standard geometry theorems for triangles; (2) measurement - density; (3) number and operations - using fractions, decimals, and percents interchangeably. Algebra has been pushed back one year, from 8th to 9th grade. This means that the majority of Georgia students will not reach calculus in high school, as expected by selective universities.
Common Core English language arts fared no better. Based on her experience as a reviewer for Fordham in 1997, 2000, and 2005, Dr. Stotsky applied the same criteria and 4.0 scale that she used when examining English language arts standards in all the states during those years.
In Dr. Stotsky's analysis comparing the standards side-by-side, the previous Georgia Performance Standards in ELA outscored the Common Core's ELA standards as the following table shows.
The End of the Beginning for Common Core
Jay P. Greene
May 30, 2013
The folks at Pioneer have landed another blow against Common Core in the mainstream Conservative press. This time Jim Stergios and Jamie Gass have a lengthy piece in the Weekly Standard detailing the start of troubles for Common Core, both substantively and politically. This follows on a piece by Gass and Charles Chieppo in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. A central part of the strategy for Common Core was to create the impression that it was inevitable, so everybody might as well get on board. That aura of inevitability has been shattered.
My reasons for opposing Common Core are slightly different from those articulated by the folks at Pioneer, but we agree on the political analysis of its fate. To become something meaningful Common Core requires more centralization of power than is possible under our current political system. Pushing it forward requires frightening reductions in parental control over education and expansions of federal power. These are not the unnecessary by-products of a misguided Obama Administration over-reach. Constraining parental choice and increasing federal power were entirely necessary to advance Common Core. And they were perfectly foreseeable (we certainly foresaw these dangers here at JPGB).
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In fact, Dr. Stotsky's analysis led her to recommend that Georgia should "re-adopt its previous standards (with some revisions...) because they are far superior to Common Core's."
To ensure that Georgia's citizens will have the opportunity to fully understand the findings of Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Bacallao, Sen. Ligon has posted these documents on his website so that all interested citizens can review the information.
Sen. Ligon is the author of legislation (SB 167 and SB 203) which would withdraw Georgia from the Common Core and the aligned assessments; prohibit the adoption of any future national curriculum standards; prohibit intrusive student data-tracking; and provide for a transparent, statewide public adoption process for curriculum standards.