Arizona Senate Panel Votes to Stop Implementing Common Core Standards

Common Core developed such a bad name in Arizona that Governor Jan Brewer had to change the name of her program to get people to forget it was connected to the policy. Now a Senate panel in Arizona has voted to dump the whole idea.

So much pressure had been brought to bear against the state's Common Core standards that Gov. Brewer signed an executive order to change the name of the program in order to make people forget it was part of Common Core. On September 20, Brewer rebranded her Common Core policy as "Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards" to distance her plans from the much maligned Common Core scheme.

Yet a mere name change wasn't enough to get a Senate panel, led by State Senator Al Melvin (R-Tucson), to go along with the Governor's plan. On February 21, the Senate Education Committee voted 6-3 to bar Arizona from implementing the Governor's Common Core standards adopted four years ago.

Sen. Melvin, a Navy veteran and former University of Arizona professor, successfully led his colleagues to vote down the Common Core plans. Melvin did concede that the whole idea of advancing state standards was a good one, but was afraid that Common Core was an effort that "got hijacked by Washington, by the federal government."

Melvin accused the math standards of being filled with "fuzzy math" and even felt that some of the books on reading lists were "borderline pornographic."

Some of the books in question are likely to have been The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, which contains a father/daughter rape scene, and Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia, which features teenage sex.

During the committee debate, Sen. David Bradley (D-Tucson) needled Melvin, asking if he ever even read any of the state's Common Core standards. Melvin replied that he had.

The new plan adopted by the committee would leave standards to local school boards and prevent the state from creating standards.

Governor Brewer isn't the only political force in the Grand Canyon State to support the Common Core standards. A collection of business interests in the state also supported Brewer's plan and urged the Senate committee to accept the plans.

"Our standards and our expectations were set too low," said Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

Business leaders fear that Arizona students lack the skills needed to succeed in the business world and expected Brewer's new policies to help alleviate that problem. 

"Seventy-one percent of our members plan to expand, but 62 percent say they cannot find enough qualified workers," added Todd Sanders, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

Sen. Kelli Ward (R-Lake Havasu) said that a "One-size-fits-all [education] is not good for our children." Ward was one of the co-sponsors of the bill to dump Common Core.

Despite Gov. Brewer's name change, the state's Common Core plans did not fit the Senator's definition of school reform.

Arizona isn't the only state trying to hide its Common Core ideas behind fancy name changes. Recently, Iowa changed its policy name to "The Iowa Core," while Florida made to strike the words "Common Core," replacing them with "Next Generation Sunshine State Standards."


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