MONTGOMERY — Alabama’s Common Core standards for public schools survived by one vote Wednesday.
But people on both sides of the issue said it’s not over.
The Common Core standards for learning in math and English were recommended by the National Governors Association. Alabama’s school board adopted them in November 2010 over the objections of incoming Gov. Robert Bentley.
Opponents say Alabama is buying into costly national standards that could lead to more federal control of public schools. Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice says the state school board retains sovereignty over standards in state schools.
The issue has created unusual divisions in the Legislature.
The chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Republican Dick Brewbaker, of Montgomery, asked the committee to approve his bill Wednesday that repeals the state Board of Education’s adoption of the standards.
A 4-5 procedural vote showed Brewbaker was one vote short of passing his bill, and it showed some of his fellow Republicans on the committee opposed it. At that point, he got the committee to kill his bill rather than risk passing a weakened version.
Critics of the standards said they will try to pass a similar bill pending in a House subcommittee or get a new bill started in the Senate. “We will still fight,” said Deanna Frankowski, of Birmingham, a member of the Rainy Day Patriots and the Alabama Legislative Watchdogs.
Bice said the death of the bill allows the state school board to implement the standards as part of Alabama’s plan to make sure every high school graduate is ready for a career or for college.
The Republican governor, House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh have advocated for the repeal, but the Business Council of Alabama, which is normally aligned with the Legislature’s GOP leadership, has supported keeping the standards.
BCA President William Canary called them “vital in preparing students to compete in the 21st century global workforce of highly skilled workers.”
Brewbaker’s bill would have repealed the standards and restricted the types of student information that Alabama’s public schools could share with the federal government. Republican Sen. Bill Holtzclaw of Madison offered a substitute bill that didn’t repeal the standards, but required eight public hearings before the school board could make any future changes. His bill had limits on sharing information, but not as many as Brewbaker’s.
“This mantains the status quo,” Brewbaker said.
Brewbaker moved to table Holtzclaw’s bill, but lost on a 4-5 vote. Voting to table with Brewbaker were Republicans Del Marsh of Anniston, Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa, and Shadrack McGill of Scottsboro. Voting not to table Holtzclaw’s bill were Holtzclaw and fellow Republican Trip Pittman of Daphne, as well as Democrats Vivian Davis Figures of Mobile, Quinton Ross of Montgomery, and Hank Sanders of Selma.
At that point, Brewbaker decided to kill his own bill.
Even though Holtzclaw won, he said, “This is not going to go away.”
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