Arkansas State Board of Education Overrules Governor on PARCC

arkansas flagThe Arkansas State Board ruled 7 to 1 today to reject ACT and to keep PARCC.  Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson left the door open with this unfortunately even though earlier this week it seemed unlikely.

“I have accepted the recommendation of the Common Core Review Council that the state leave PARCC and use the ACT and ACT Aspire, pending state Board of Education approval and a contract agreement with ACT and ACT Aspire,” Hutchinson said in a released statement on Monday.

Apparently under state law they have this power I’ve been told, but wow what hubris.  The board consists of 9 members appointed by the governor.  There are two members representing each congressional district and an at-large member.  I’ve never heard of an appointed board overruling a Governor.

Arkansas Online reports:

But Education Board members criticized the process as rushed and said they had various concerns about approving the change. They voted 7-1 in favor of a motion not to make the switch with only board member Alice Mahony voting against it. The board then voted the same way to continue the PARCC assessments.

Board member Mireya Reith said her phone was “ringing off the hook” this week from teachers who felt left out of the process that resulted in the recommendation to shift to ACT tests. She also noted that the state board reached out and offered to have a representative on the Common Core review panel, which was led by Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin.

“That opportunity was not taken,” she said.

Board member Vicki Saviers said she was concerned by the lack of involvement from Department of Education assessment officials as well as having to approve the measure without a contract in place.

“Truthfully, it feels a little political,” she said. “It’s like, ‘We need to do something. We don’t want to get rid of Common Core, but we need to do something.’ … And the people that end up paying for it are the teachers.”

So the process was bad because some teachers called board members and the educrats were not involved?  Lt. Governor Tim Griffin objected to the board calling the process political.

Griffin said Thursday after the vote that he was “obviously disappointed” by the decision. But he defended the process the review panel followed, saying it was inclusive of all stakeholders, including teachers.

“Anybody that thinks that this council and its overwhelming vote was based on politics hasn’t been paying attention and hasn’t watched the 40 hours of hearings and hasn’t been in the listening sessions,” he said, saying that such a suggestion is an “insult to the 16 Arkansas citizens who volunteered” on the panel.

It’s clear that the Arkansas Legislature needs to provide additional guidance in the code.  An unelected board should never have this much power.  Hutchinson will be making three appointments coming up as two of the board members terms expire and other just resigned.