Common Core Push Back in Arkansas

The Russellville Courier had coverage of Common Core pushback occurring in Arkansas:

A couple of hundred people, including legislators who are members of the House and Senate Education committees and many who are not, gathered in a large conference room behind the Capitol Monday and Tuesday. They were there to discuss — you might even say “reconsider” — the Common Core State Standards…

…Policymakers and schools in Arkansas have spent the past three years making the transition. Students in grades K-2 started using the Common Core year before last, while students in grades 3-8 did this past year. Next month, it moves to high school, and in 2014-15, students start testing.

That’s a big problem. It wasn’t until this year that the Department of Education, which has had its hands full recently, realized that few schools in Arkansas have enough internet bandwidth to administer the tests online, as they’re supposed to be done. There’s a workaround — including, if need be, paper and pencil — but Gov. Beebe has scrambled leaders in education and business to create a real solution. They say we need to increase the bandwidth for other reasons, which is true, but Common Core makes the problem urgent.

Testing is causing problems in other states, too. Arkansas is part of a consortium of states known as PARCC that is preparing the online tests. Several states — most recently Georgia on Monday — have pulled out of PARCC. It’s only been lately that Common Core has begun attracting organized opposition, which is why legislators spent most of two long days hearing testimony from both sides.

The group Arkansas Against Common Core — and some legislators — say most of the country is adopting a new set of standards that have never been pilot-tested anywhere. Moreover, they say Common Core was hatched by the NGA, CCSSO, and others in a closed-door fashion and soon will lead to more federal control of education. Through No Child Left Behind, passed under President George W. Bush’s administration, Washington already has taken an unprecedented role in schools. They say Common Core continues that momentum. President Obama’s administration, which should have stayed out of this, encouraged states to adopt the Common Core by providing Race to the Top grants.

Read the rest and be sure to check out Arkansas Against Common Core.