ATLANTA (February 28, 2013) – Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) held a press conference today to discuss Senate Bill 167. Sen. Ligon sponsored this legislation to withdraw Georgia from its participation in the Common Core State Standards Initiative and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) were adopted on July 8, 2010 under Governor Sonny Perdue’s administration as part of the state’s efforts to comply with the Federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant. The Common Core represents the first attempt at nationalized curriculum standards in math and English language arts (ELA) for grades K – 12. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is responsible for the development of assessments that will be aligned to the Common Core.
“Though I am sure the previous administration had the best of intentions when deciding to apply for Race to the Top, the lack of accountability to the parents and taxpayers of this state is stunning,” said Sen. Ligon. “First of all, there has been no thorough cost analysis of what the unfunded mandates will cost Georgia’s taxpayers at either the state or the local level to implement and maintain the terms of the grant.”
“Secondly, allowing a consortium of states to work with non-profits and other unaccountable parties to develop our standards without open public oversight is untenable in a country of free people, especially considering that Georgia’s taxpayers support K-12 education with $13 billion of hard-earned dollars every year,” Sen. Ligon explained. “Georgia needs to have a transparent, democratic process of developing curriculum standards and a means to ensure more direct accountability at the local level. Our educational system should not be accountable to Washington bureaucrats, but to the people of this state who pay the taxes and to the parents who have children in our public schools.”
Lending his voice of support to the effort, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle stated, “The most important task we face each Legislative Session is finding ways to strengthen and reform the education of Georgia’s children. I believe that Georgians know best how to educate our children – not Washington, D.C. bureaucrats. I look forward to working with Senator Ligon on this important issue to ensure that we’re able to continue making decisions about the education of our children right here in Georgia rather than having curriculum standards enforced from Washington, D.C.”
Sen. Ligon’s proposed legislation, Senate Bill 167, addresses withdrawal from the current implementation of the national math and English language arts standards, and prevents the Department of Education from adopting future standards without input from the citizens of Georgia. In addition, the legislation ensures that Georgia does not forfeit control of curriculum standards to outside entities.
Another provision of the bill addresses privacy concerns. SB 167 prohibits the Department of Education from sharing personally identifiable student and teacher information with the federal government except in well-defined circumstances, some of which would require notification to parents and to teachers. In addition, the bill forbids the Department of Education from sharing any personally identifiable information with entities outside the state, such as non-profits, and limits what can be shared inside the state to educational entities only. Further, no educational institution can use the data to develop commercial products or services or transfer that information to other entities, such as the labor department for workforce planning.
“Unfortunately, measures to protect the privacy of Georgia’s citizens require additional vigilance due to the fact that the U.S. Department of Education has gutted federal student-privacy law through regulations implemented a year ago,” said Sen. Ligon. “Here in Georgia, I believe it is our legislative duty to protect the privacy of our citizens, especially our children, according to the original spirit of the law passed by Congress.”
During the press conference, Sen. Ligon was joined by several key education policymakers and stakeholders including, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the Common Core Validation Committee and as senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education; Ze’ev Wurman, a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution and former Senior Adviser at the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development in the U.S. Department of Education; Jane Robbins, a Harvard-trained attorney and Senior Fellow with the American Principles Project; and Dr. Jim Arnold, Superintendent of Pelham City Schools, GA.
In addition, a number of grassroots organizations pledged their support for SB 167 and were present to offer feedback regarding the removal of Georgia’s Common Core Program. These groups include organizations such as Concerned Women for America, Americans for Prosperity, American Principles Project, Georgia Conservatives in Action, Citizen Impact, the Conservative Leadership Coalition, the Georgia Republican Assembly, among others.
Senate Bill 167 has been assigned to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.