Ducey’s Directive On Standards Development Not Confusing

Anyone who has attended the Arizona State Board of Education’s Academic Standards Development meetings know the question regarding what the task at hand is always comes up in the discussions. It is difficult to understand why there is so much confusion as to “what is the charge/directive” Governor Doug Ducey issued early in his tenure.

Governor Ducey stated:

“As you know, I am against Common Core, and I openly opposed it in my run for this office.  That has not changed. I think the current Washington administration has hurt K-12 education by involving itself in recent funding and waiver decisions—and frustrated parents to no end…not to mention the damage done by a consistent—federal government– one size fits all mentality–ignoring the innovation of individual states and education reform champions over the past 4 decades.

It’s also important to know– I have high expectations and I am for high standards.  You can’t have excellence without them.

Therefore, I’m calling on this Board to make right this situation.  Our state needs to act so we can move forward. Begin by reviewing the English Language Arts and Mathematics standards in their entirety to ensure that our children are well served by the standards you develop—with full transparency. Standards that are Arizona’s. Standards–that our parents and teachers bring forward together.”

The statement is clear: Parents and teachers together would review the standards and develop high Arizona standards for Arizona students. We know the Common Core standards are notoriously low. We know they were not crafted for Arizona students by Arizona parents and teachers. We know that there is no reason to review them if you have no intent to revise them. That would not be fiscally responsible, and Ducey claims to be a fiscally responsible representative of the people.

The task is only confusing if you want it to be. There are those, in an effort to protect the Common Core standards out of some misunderstanding of them or an investment of ego in them, who want Ducey’s directive to mean that they should leave the standards alone unless someone has complained about one. They argue that Ducey’s directive was simply – change only the standards about which people have specific complaints.

Unfortunately for Common Core proponents, that was not what he said. He was specific:  “I am against Common Core, and I openly opposed it in my run for this office.” He even goes so far as to acknowledge that the federal government, through its development of the Common Core, ignored “the innovation of individual states and education reform champions over the past 4 decades.”

Ducey’s directive was for the committee to begin by “reviewing the English Language Arts and Mathematics standards in their entirety…with full transparency that parents and teachers bring forward together….And in any instance during your review, you find situations where Arizona standards can outperform or improve our current standards…recommend replacement immediately.”

Again, the task is only confusing if you want it to be.

Claiming ignorance, the Math and ELA sub-committees and working groups also discussed what their “role, charge or directive” is.  Rather than going back to the Governor’s words of March 23, 2015, they concluded they would look at the public comment, interpret and address them as the “experts.”  The “experts” would decide which comments were valid, and therefore relevant and those which could be ignored. That might seem perfectly reasonable to anyone – as long as they were making those judgments based on their expertise and NOT their bias. That does not appear to be the case. It can’t be because even the premise of their chosen methodology is biased.

Ducey called on “President Greg Miller and the members of the State Board of Education to work with the Superintendent to ensure that we get this done collaboratively and as quickly as possible. It’s time for our teachers and parents to have certainty so we can carry on with the important work of educating our students.” It sounded good at the time. It didn’t happen. Instead Miller has used every distracting move towards his obstructionist ends. That must end.

It is incumbent on parents, teachers, and taxpayers to demand that the charge of the man they elected – who committed to ridding our state of the Common Core standards – be heeded immediately and the task completed in a timely fashion. Ducey must call once again for this work to be “done collaboratively and as quickly as possible.” He won’t do that, if no one demands it.

To reach the governor in Phoenix call 602.542.4331, and in Tucson: 520.628.6580 or tweet him at https://twitter.com/dougducey