The Arizona Senate Education Committee voted on Thursday to kill Common Core standards in the state of Arizona. The measure, HB2190, sponsored by Rep. Mark Finchem, passed on a 5 -2 vote. It now heads to the Rules Committee.
Sen. Kelli Ward, Chair of the Arizona Senate Education Committee, allowed ample time for parents and the public, who had been shut out of the initial Common Core adoption process, to speak their minds on the matter.
Ward proposed an amendment, which was adopted by the panel that maintained a role for the state Board of Education and the Legislature.
Sen. Kimberly Yee, who has worked on developing standards in the past, voted for the measure, she expressed some reservations, but said the changes could be made before a full vote of the Senate. Yee and others were uncomfortable with the language that had already been removed before arriving at the committee that would have prohibited Arizona from adopting the same standards that had been adopted by 20 other states. “We need to keep an open mind when we’re looking at development,” said Yee.
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That language had been removed earlier, but Common core proponents insisted that it was in the bill in their effort to raise fears about the measure.
A lobbyist for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce read from a prepared statement reciting the standard chamber of commerce arguments in favor of the common Core scheme. The chambers across the country support the standards because they will allow schools to eventually become the human resource departments for corporations under the Common Core scheme.
School teacher, and author of The Cult of Common Core, Brad McQueen, explained to the panel why the chambers support the Common Core scheme. “It has everything to do with centralizing power over our kids’ minds, away from our parents and into the waiting hands of big government and big business who will use our K-12 education system as their very own human resource departments to shape future workers to suit their needs.”
A young boy by the name of Aaron had addressed the panel earlier on, and offered compelling testimony as to why he objected to the new standards. He explained that because they are inflexible, talented and gifted children are held back in the development of their skills in order to maintain uniformity within grade levels.
McQueen, a dedicated teacher, became emotional has he noted that the reason he has fought against the standards was for kids like Ben who deserved to be unhindered by inflexible federal standards.
The most controversial testimony came from former Superintendent of Public Instruction, Lisa Graham Keegan, who offered false testimony as to the effects of Finchem’s bill. In an effort to scare lawmakers, Graham Keegan, claimed that removing the Common Core standards would prevent Arizona schools from offering such educational programs as phonics. The claims were remarkable and drew a sharp rebuke from education experts.
Keegan then misrepresented the cost associated with dropping the standards. She claimed that Arizona would miss out on federal funding, but was challenged when lawmakers noted that if Arizona develops higher standards, they would qualify for federal funding.
Finchem testified to the panel that parents, teachers like McQueen and other constituents had asked him to sponsor the bill. He advised the panel that he was not a “expert” in standards, but he had sought out experts. He explained that he proposed the bill because “my constituents are absolutely outraged that this kind of a program made it into our education system.”
As for cost of changing from the Common Core testing, Sen. Steve Smith pointed out that just last year, Arizona dropped out of the PARCC consortium due to procurement irregularities and no one raised questions about the tremendous cost associated with that decision.
The bill has bipartisan support. The Badass teachers Association, a national organization of progressive educators, and the Washington Democrat Party had come out in opposition to Common Core.