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As the Senate prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), a bill which could have big implications for the American education system, state legislatures and governors have been busy tackling their own reforms to Common Core education standards. Here’s what’s been going on in several key states.
The Louisiana legislature is currently working on a three bill “compromise package” that supporters are saying would allow for the repeal of Common Core standards in that state. However, there are concerns that this package is toothless, merely calling for review of the standards without clear prohibitions on adoption and implementation of federal mandates.
Governor Jindal, who opposes Common Core, was initially wary of the package, saying that it didn’t go far enough, but he has since agreed to support it. Since the State Superintendent of Education supports Common Core, it seems unlikely that the review process will yield any very strong reforms.
In New Hampshire, a bill prohibiting the state department of education from requiring Common Core standards passed the legislature in May, only to be vetoed by Governor Maggie Hassan. Gov. Hassan is the first governor in the nation to actually sign a veto of Common Core repeal, although the bill in question would probably not have accomplished all that much anyway, as it lacked specific prohibitions on adopting the standards.
Governor Haslam has signed HB 1035 into law, a bill which was being branded as a Common Core repeal. I’ve written before about how this bill was actually fairly weak, and accomplishes little more than a rebranding of the standards, rather than a meaningful repeal. Let’s hope that this is seen as a first step towards better reforms, and not a “mission accomplished” kind of moment. The danger is that the legislature and governor will consider their job done and move on to other issues, when in fact, there is much more work to be done.
The ESEA reauthorization bill, known as the Every Child Achieves Act, currently contains language that would prevent the federal government from being able to coerce states into accepting common standards, and would make it easier for states like Tennessee to pass more meaningful reforms, instead of falling into the rebranding trap to continue to collect federal dollars.
Unfortunately, the Every Child Achieves Act also contains unacceptable federal testing standards and a number of other provisions that undermine state autonomy in education. FreedomWorks opposes any federal involvement in education, having looked in vain for any such authorization in the U.S. Constitution.