Monday, February 24, 2014

Arizona Legislature Rejects Common Core Initiative for Tea Party Agenda

by Nomad

In a victory for the Arizona's Tea Party, the legislature has rejected the Common Core Standards Initiative. 
This nationwide program would have guaranteed that Arizona's high school students would be able to compete academically with students from any other state. Business leaders are warning that this decision would put students in the state at a disadvantage when seeking employment.

The Arizona legislature is, with argument, quickly becoming the nation's laughing stock. Only a week after approving of a bill to allow shop owners to discriminate against gay citizens under the name of religious freedom, lawmakers there have voted along party lines to drop out of the Common Core standards. Republicans voted 6-3 to bar Arizona from participating in the program.

The Common Core Initiative is a attempt to create a national educational standard, designed to prepare students with the information and skills they need to compete in the global economy. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and has been adopted by 45 states. Arizona approved of the changes four years ago.

Specifically, Common Core targets what K-12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. While educators and business leaders hailed the program as a step forward, Arizona lawmakers want none of it.

Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, who championed SB 1310, said he believes the concept of some nationally recognized standards started out as a “pretty admirable pursuit by the private sector and governors.”

“It got hijacked by Washington, by the federal government,” said Melvin, a candidate for governor, and “as a conservative Reagan Republican I’m suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general, but also any standards that are coming out of that department.”
However, Melvin seems unaware that, while the Common Core standards are nationwide in scope, they didn’t originate in Washington. Al Melvin recently declared at an Arizona GOP Awards Dinner that he would "proudly wave the flag of the Tea Party." He has also declared his intention of running for governor in the next election.
When quizzed by other politician about whether Melvin had actually even looked at the Common Core standards, he said that he had been "exposed to them." (For some people like Melvin, information is considered something akin to deadly radiation.)

During the debate about Common Core, Melvin added more nonsense to the mix. Melvin asserted that some of the reading material was "borderline pornographic" (biology?) and that the math was "fuzzy" because it substituted letters for numbers.
It is called Algebra, Al.

As the news source points out, SB1310 is part of a larger attempt by Education Committee Republicans to withdraw from a national standard in favor of local school boards.  
The panel approved three other measures that, in one form or another, would take away the power of the state to set educational standards and instead leave that role to local school boards. The only requirement would be that the local standards could be no lower than those set by the Board of Education in 1999.
States like Ohio, Colorado, Alabama and many other states have seen similar attempts by ultra-conservatives- like the Tea Party- to remove nation-wide standards for education.

In Arizona, the Education committee defeated another measure which would have set up a pilot program to replace textbooks with computers. The switch has many advantages but the main one was reduced costs. Another plus for students is having a lightweight library at your fingertips.
When a smiliar program was implemented in a private school in New York , the savings were remarkable.
In the past, students' families had to spend up to $700 a year on textbooks. This year — after the one-time purchase of a tablet or laptop — families have to pay $150 for access to the digital library.
And yet, conservative Arizonans rejected the whole idea. The switchover to computers was seen by some conservative parents as a way to indoctrinate Arizona students in the concepts of global warming, evolution, defaming the Founders.” 
Meaning, science and history that things the Tea Party didn't agree with or refuse to accept.
And perhaps that's understandable. What parent would want their children to see exactly how backward and ignorant their parents actually are?

State corporate executives and business groups could only shake their heads in dismay at the votes. The executives who spoke out against the Common Core rejection bill were some big names too and included  companies like Intel, Sundt Construction, Sunbelt Holdings and Bank of America.
“Our standards and our expectations were set too low,” said Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said business leaders worked with governors to come up with new ones designed to ensure that high school graduates have the skills they need to work or go on to college.
One lobbyist for the the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Chad Heinrich, said the decision to withdraw from Common Core was a step backward. and would make high school graduates unemployable. When hiring, employers may consider Arizona graduates the second-best choice.
“If Arizona graduates are not prepared, our employers could be forced to look to other states to fill those needs.”
Meanwhile as this embarrassment of a bill follows close on the heels of the discriminatory anti-gay law. Both are off to the desk of Governor Jan Brewer. It is not clear whether she will actually sign the bills into law or not.

And anyway, who knows what the Arizona legislature will come up with next week?