No More Common Core in Arizona

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas made national headlines last year for standing up for parental rights in education and opposing Washington, DC-driven Common Core standards.

This morning, Superintendent Douglas motioned the state education board, the entity responsible for adopting Common Core in Arizona back in 2010, to vote on the standards, which were defeated. As KTAR News reports:

The Arizona State Board of Education in a 6-2 decision voted to repeal the Common Core State Standards Monday morning.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas brought the motion to the board to reverse the 2010 adoption of the standards.

In a letter addressed to board President Greg Miller, Douglas wrote, “It is hereby moved that the actions of the State Board of Education (SBE) on June 28, 2010 to adopt Common Core, now referred to as the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, as the standards for language arts and mathematics be reversed and that all links to Common Core be severed.”

Elsewhere, ABC 15 News (Phoenix) reported that the 45-minute debate became heated:

“The board is just saying, ‘We can take care of Arizona’s children and this is a very proud day for Arizonans,” said Douglas.

“This will send a clear message to the citizens of Arizona and the nation that Arizonans are smart enough, engaged enough, and collaborative enough to control the education of our own children.”

The existing standards will stay in place for the time being, but Arizona now has the freedom to enact standards its citizens think are best.

The challenge will be not to repeat the mistakes of the past, with seemingly rigorous standards on paper, but shamefully low passing scores for students to be deemed performing. (See here and here, too.) And that’s the problem once we put politicians in charge of academics.

No matter how well-intentioned elected officials and their appointees may be about education, there’s always powerful pressure to make it appear as though they’re “doing something”—and no politician wants student scores to go down on his or her watch.

Cases in point. In response to political pressure from Washington, DC, to make 100 percent of students proficient during the Bush II No Child Left Behind era, the overall rigor of Arizona state standards went from a B- in 2003 to a D+ in 2009. One year after Common Core was adopted by the state board—but had not yet been implemented—Arizona standards moved up to a C in 2011.

So in less than a decade with politicians in charge, the rigor of Arizona’s standards declined overall—at a cost to a generation of students that can never be fully quantified. The monetary cost to their parents and taxpayers, however, can.

In a nutshell, Arizonans have spent close to $400 million implementing Common Core, but we only got $25 million of our hard-earned tax money back from the feds to implement it.

Superintendent Douglas was elected last year by a majority of Arizona voters who want Washington, DC, and politics out of children’s classrooms. She’s stayed true to her promise to work to empower parents over their children’s education—because parental choice, not more government mandates or empty standards—is the best way to ensure a top-quality education for all students.

Vicki E. Alger is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Senior Fellow and Director of the Women for School Choice Project at the Independent Women’s Forum. She is the author of the Independent book, Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children.
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