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March 11, 2013

State education curriculum on brink of legislative control

College and Career Ready Standards focus on math, language arts

(Continued)

Sticking points

Holtzclaw, who has two children and served 20 years in the active-duty Marine Corps, told the Legislative Open Forum audience at Athens State University in January the common core standards prevent children of military personnel from falling behind due to different state curriculum standards. He did not mention the possibility of repealing the Alabama standards.

Holtzclaw, who blogged Feb. 25 about his opposition to common core standards at District2.us.com, wrote his stance stems from “where we may be headed from a Federal perspective,” and SB 190 will keep the state from making “an agreement or joining a consortium that would cede any control to an entity outside the state.”

Unless the wording is modified, SB 190/HB 254 would allow the Legislature to be the final authority on state curriculum instead of the state Board of Education. The board is comprised of representatives elected from eight districts and Bentley, who took office in January 2011.

In addition to the ban on consortiums and the revocation of CCRS, the four-part bill also prohibits the “compiling or sharing data about students or teachers” in most instances, and requires the state BOE to give notice and hold public hearings before changing statewide standards.

The state board had three public meetings about changing curriculum standards prior to first approving them on Nov. 18, 2010, according to The Birmingham News.

State and local education officials repeatedly have said private data about students and teachers is not shared with the federal government. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is an existing federal law that protects student privacy.

Student privacy

Dr. Tom Sisk, superintendent of Limestone County Schools, said the debate about the state’s math and English standards should be focused on student learning instead of being embroiled in political rhetoric.

He said the proposed bill to repeal CCRS has caused confusion because it was written without input from state Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice.

“The confusion, as I’m seeing it, is because the Legislature didn’t involve the state superintendent, and they didn’t have the benefit of knowing what was true, and what wasn’t true,” said Sisk, who plans to attend Wednesday’s Senate meeting. “Data is shared between the federal government and state government only in the standpoint of rewarding federal dollars, and not to give individual student information. We are very limited by privacy laws in what we can share, and we don’t share private information.

“The only information we share is holistically, in terms of percentages and rations, so that we can qualify for federal funding. We do not share specific names when asked about graduation rates, foreign-language speaking students or students qualifying for free or reduced lunches through the Title I program.”

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