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Texas AG Abbott: Parents Aren't Powerless Against Common Core

Texas AG Abbott: Parents Aren't Powerless Against Common Core

“Does a school district using Common Core in any way to teach state standards violate the law?”  That was the question asked by Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. The senator asked in a December 2013 letter to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in which he requested an opinion from the Attorney General on House Bill 462, the legislation passed during the 83rd Legislative Session that was intended to prohibit the Common Core State Standards Initiative from entering Texas public school classrooms.

The Common Core State Standards are the controversial public education initiative in which 45 states and the District of Columbia participate. Texas is a non-Common Core state. Yet, content  has been coming home from the classroom which was the impetus for Senator Patrick’s request letter in which he wrote, “certain school districts within Texas are currently using Common Core to teach the Texas state standards.” Breitbart Texas has also raised concerns about HB 462 legislation. 

Since Patrick filed the request, more Texas parents and educators continue to question why they see Common Core materials in their school districts. Interestingly, Houston Independent School District (ISD) was awarded $30 million in Race to the Top (RTTT) federal grants in late 2013. This is in a school district and in a state not affiliated with the federally led education mandate. 

RTTT is the competition where states apply and vie for federal education grant dollars. It was authorized under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), better known as the Stimulus Package. According to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) website, RTTT grants awards to states and school districts that implement school reforms. The states that have been awarded grant money are those states participating in the Common Core State Standards.

In the case of Houston ISD, the Houston Chronicle reported that the district superintendent Terry Grier actively lobbied the Obama administration to allow Texas school districts to apply for the grants that Governor Rick Perry refused on behalf of the state. According to the Houston Chronicle, Grier pursued the Race to the Top program through a provision called RTTT-D. The “D” stands for district. Education Views described RTTT-D as a work around mechanism that circumvents Texas state education agencies and state laws because the funds are sent directly to school districts. 

The U.S. Department of Education website describes among program objectives for RTTT-D grant recipients “ensuring that each student masters critical areas identified in college- and career-ready standards or college- and career-ready high school graduation requirements.”  College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS), Future Ready Project, and 21st Century Learning are a few among many interchangeable names for the Common Core.

In Senator Patrick’s request for an opinion, he wrote: “HB 462, which is now law, prohibits the State Board of Education from adopting national curriculum standards developed the Common Core State Standards Initiative to comply with a duty imposed under statutory provisions relating to courses of study in the public school curriculum and student advancement. It also prohibits a school district from using Common Core State Standards to comply with the requirement to provide instruction in the essential knowledge and skills at appropriate grade levels, and it prohibits a school district or open-enrollment charter school from being required to offer any aspect of a Common Core State Standards curriculum.  Finally, the law prohibits the Texas Education Agency from adopting or developing a statewide standardized test base on Common Core State Standards.”

Breitbart Texas spoke with Senator Patrick, who advised that the opinion is still under review. He will keep Texans apprised of developments.  However, while the process continues, there is something the public can do. Citizens can submit verifiable Common Core content to the Attorney General’s office. 

Abbott spokesperson Charlie Castillo confirmed that once a case is opened, factually-based evidence and testimony from verifiable sources may be submitted to the Texas Attorney General’s office through the duration of the review process. The only thing not acceptable to send is opinion-based information.  

General submission electronic information can be found on the Texas Attorney General website opinion page “Attorney General Opinion Process and Who May Participate.” The HB 462 case is file #RQ1175-GA. Also, documentation can be mailed to the attention of the opinion committee in the office of the Attorney General.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom

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