Teacher groups oppose Mich. Common Core repeal

Teacher groups oppose Mich. Common Core repeal

(Mich.) The Michigan Science Teachers Association is the latest group to pile on opposition to a bill introduced in the House that would walk back the state’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards.

Although the current science standards are based on the Next Generation Science Standards–not Common Core–the two frameworks have largely been criticized in tandem as top-down, one-size-fits-all federal mandates.

The Michigan Science Standards, which the state science teachers association helped develop, were adopted in September of 2015.

“The Michigan Science Teachers Association firmly opposes Michigan House Bill 4192,” the organization wrote in an official release of its position Wednesday. “The Michigan Science Standards reflect the current research on how students best learn science. Several of these Michigan science standards are specific to our state and the Great Lakes Basin, reflecting our unique and important role in the country and the world.”

A handful of the 43 states which adopted Common Core, including North Dakota and West Virginia, have also introduced legislation to repeal adoption of the standards since November. While the federal government did not have a hand in developing the standards, critics argue that the Obama administration overstepped its authority by incentivizing adoption by linking it to federal grant money.

For its part, the NGSS received criticism from those who disagree with the inclusion of topics such as evolutionary theories and global climate change. The standards, which weave together core scientific concepts with scientific practice, were developed by content experts in 27 states to include up-to-date information.

This latest attempt by Michigan lawmakers to repeal the Common Core standards mirrors an effort made last year in the State Senate. Similarly, the House bill would replace the state’s current standards with Massachusetts’ 2008-09 standards instead–despite the fact that the Bay State dropped those standards itself in favor of adopting the Common Core.

The current bill, authored by Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, has also faced early criticism from the Michigan Education Association over other provisions in the bill, including one that would allow parents to opt their students out of any class, instruction or test.

Steven Cook, president of the education association, also noted that even though the state had adopted the Common Core standard as a framework, it was still up to the state to develop a common curriculum to be used in Michigan schools.

“Having common standards across districts and states is helpful, especially for students who need to change schools so they’re learning the same things at the same grade levels,” Cook said in a statement. “Students and educators need continuity in education policy–not arbitrary changes to standards and tests.”

The bill would also prohibit schools from collecting data regarding an individual student’s values, attitudes and personality traits, or the student’s political or religious views. The bill would also ensure that test questions used by public schools would be made easily available to the public.

Despite early opposition from the education community, Glenn’s bill–which is co-sponsored by 26 Republican and two Democratic members of the House–has received support in the Legislature.

Glenn has said his bill is important in restoring local control, and is the product of nearly two years of work by a group of state and national education reform advocates.

“Michigan students deserve the best standards, proven by actual test results,” Glenn said in a statement. “And ultimately, our own local school boards and educational leaders—not the federal government–know what’s best for Michigan students.”