Anniston senator: Common Core ban bill on hold
by Tim Lockette
Apr 23, 2013 | 6211 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this file photo, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, debates Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, during regular legislative session at the State House in Montgomery. (Photo:, Julie Bennett/The Associated Press)
In this file photo, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, debates Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, during regular legislative session at the State House in Montgomery. (Photo:, Julie Bennett/The Associated Press)
MONTGOMERY — A bill to ban the state from using its Common Core-based academic standards is on hold in the Alabama Senate, Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said today.

Marsh, the president pro tempore of the Senate, said lawmakers need more time to discuss the Common Core issue, which he described as too complicated to discuss in the time remaining in the legislative session.

"There are members who would not be able to get the information they need" in time for a vote, Marsh said.

Educators rallied on the steps of the State Capitol this morning in favor of Common Core, a multi-state set of academic standards that has generated an amount of controversy rarely seen in debates about curriculum and instruction.

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers established the Common Core State Standards Initiative several years ago to design a core set of academic standards that could be adopted by multiple states. Proponents of the project worried that some states' standards were weaker than others, and that students couldn't transfer from state to state easily because of the standards gap.

Alabama adopted Common Core-inspired standards for English and math, known as the College and Career Ready Standards, in 2010.

Though Common Core wasn't a federal project, the standards drew criticism from some — including state and national Republican Party leaders — who claimed that the project represented a federal takeover of schools. The Obama administration has endorsed the standards and encouraged their adoption in the Race to the Top grant system, but states have never been required to adopt them.

“They can’t make the argument that the federal government is not involved,” said Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, who filed a bill earlier this month to ban the implementation of the standards.

“When they’re incentivizing you with money, that’s control,” Beason said.

The bill was approved by a Senate committee last week, and was expected to come up for a vote as early as this week.

But Marsh said the issue was too complicated and confusing for a debate between now and the end of the session. The Legislature is expected to meet fewer than 10 days between now and the end of the session in late May. Both houses have yet to take up another complicated issue — a proposed overhaul of the Medicaid system.

Marsh said he'd spoken to multiple people who are well versed in education matters, and had heard very different opinions on Common Core.

"I, truly, myself am confused," he said of the debate about the standards.

The debate about Common Core has roiled on for weeks in Montgomery, and has often been clouded by rumors about the standards that turned out to be unsubstantiated. Among other things, opponents last week claimed Common Core would lead to the use of facial recognition software to monitor students in the classroom and federal tracking of what students eat at home. School officials said both claims were baseless.

Marsh said he wanted to appoint a joint House-and-Senate committee to study the Common Core issue after the end of the session.

In a statement emailed to the press, state schools superintendent Tommy Bice characterized Marsh's decision as a triumph of fact over fiction.

"Throughout this debate I have remained focused on just that — the facts — supported by irrefutable evidence with the belief that truth does prevail," he wrote.

Beason said he was “bothered” by Marsh’s decision not to put the Common Core on the calendar.

“I don’t care what his reasons are,” Beason said of Marsh's decision. He said that current proponents of the standards would later wish the state had rejected them when they had the chance.

“Every effort to centralize education at the national level has failed,” he said.

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.

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