Sen. Fran Millar: Common Core Makes Sense

Below is a guest post from Senator Fran Millar. Millar represents the Senate’s 40th district covering parts of DeKalb and Gwinnett. He currently serves on the Senate Education Committee and has served as it’s Chairman. As the debate over Common Core continues, we thought it would be good to get the Senator’s comments. For more, read Charlie’s article.

I have served in the General Assembly for fifteen years and been fortunate to have worked with many “experts” in education.

I am very concerned about the reaction by some citizens to the Common Core. Georgia was a lead state in the development of the Common Core performance standards and there is great alignment with our former Georgia standards. Yes this was a state led initiative and not Obamacore.

A standard is a proficiency target. In other words what knowledge and skills do students need grade by grade and subject by subject, initially in English Language Arts and Mathematics.

The new standards were designed with particular emphasis on critical thinking, research skills and applying knowledge to real world situations (important for an educated workforce).

Any new performance standards must be approved by our State Board of Education and we also have up to fifteen percent flexibility in the standards we employ. This allows us to raise the bar in areas we think appropriate.

Common Core is not a curriculum (a directive of how a teacher teaches, what students must learn each day or the materials students and teachers must use). Ironically most of our current textbooks now in this country come from California, New York and Texas.

Concern has been raised as respect to the privacy of student information. Per the State Department of Education, we do not participate in student level data sharing initiatives involving submission to the federal government. Georgia currently and will continue to own all of its data. Even when aggregate data is shared appropriate protocols and approvals are in place.

I believe that the cost for common assessments is an issue that needs to be addressed. However, when I hear that people oppose national assessments I wonder where they have been. What do they think the Iowa Basic Skills Tests, National Assessment of Educational Progress, SAT and ACT are?

Georgia students must be prepared to compete in the global marketplace and these national standards are necessary for improved college and career readiness. Yes folks we keep score in the real world and there are winners and losers.

I don’t believe federal funding (less than ten percent) should be tied to implementing the Common Core. At least five states do not participate in this initiative.

Bottom line half of our college students must take remedial mathematics. After six years fifty six percent of our students graduate from college. It is estimated eighty five percent of our future jobs will require some education beyond high school.

Kathleen Porter-Magee, a conservative author, probably said it best “Common Core offers American students the opportunity for a far more rigorous, content rich, cohesive K-12 education than most of them have had. Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards and an academic curriculum based on great works of Western civilization and the American republic. Aren’t they still?”

Senator Fran Millar

8 comments

  1. kdoc says:

    I’m a conservative and an administrator in a private Christian school. As I have studied the Common Core standards, I’m embarrassed by the conservative criticisms. The critics must have found some super-secret document that is titled “Common Core” which is radically different from the public documents (available at http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards). If anyone would take the time to actually read those documents, they would find NOTHING sinister or subversive about them.

  2. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    I’m a conservative Democrat and education reformer/charter school administrator with longtime years in district public schools. The Common Core standards are the result of collaborations launched by the governors and chief school officers of several states. They are not some nefarious federal plot hatched in Washington, DC. They are going to raise the bar for how knowledge and skills are assessed, which should drive substantial change in the way that information is taught and learned. What’s not to love about that?

  3. Dave Bearse says:

    The next thing you know Washington will be tryin’ to put its cotton-pickin’ hands on Medicare.

  4. Joshua Morris says:

    Some key issues taken from http://www.commoncoresolutions.com/PDF/education_brief.pdf

    “6. What role will the U.S. DOE play?
    Although the U.S. DOE supports the Common Core Initiative, they have had no role in the development of the Common Core State Standards. Their involvement moving forward will depend heavily on future elections and overall changes to the role of the Federal Government in education. If the Fed continues to be a driving force in setting the education agenda with a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act then they could play a big role in linking competitive grant funding to the adoption and successful implementation of the Common Core Standards and new requirements for College and Career ready students.”

    When federal government grants are tied to anything, bureaucrats take control.

    “States and districts are unsure what the true cost of implementing Common Core will be and worry that the money needed will not be available in state or federal budgets. The recession and widespread budget cuts can adversely affect efforts to implement. States adopting these standards must be prepared to implement strategies and support as these will soon become the basis on which students are judged.”

    We’ve put more than enough money into education without proportional results. More expensive national standards will not all of a sudden improve education now when other initiatives in the past have not.

    “The Role of Federal Government in the Common Core
    While the federal government has had no role in the development of the Common Core state standards, according to the CCSSI, the federal government may have the opportunity to support states as they begin adopting the standards. For example, the federal government may:
    •Support this effort through a range of tiered incentives, such as providing states with greater flexibility in the use of existing federal funds, supporting a revised state accountability structure, and offering financial support for states to implement the standards.
    •Provide long-term financial support for the development and implementation of common assessments, teacher and principal professional development, and research to help continually improve the Common Core state standards over time.
    •Revise and align existing federal education laws with the lessons learned from the best of what works in other nations and from research.”

    More about dependence on the federal government in order to get money back (after being pilfered by Washington bureaus) that Georgia citizens send to Washington. Why don’t we rather lean on Congress to leave that money in each state rather than having it make the trip to DC and back? And the ‘research to help continually improve the Common Core state standards over time’? Translation: federal government takeover of standards.

    My biggest question is: why has Georgia government been so interested in creating a national program that will certainly be federalized in short order? Can we not focus on giving the students in our state the best education possible, and let other states follow our lead if we develop a system that works?

  5. mpierce says:

    we also have up to fifteen percent flexibility in the standards we employ.

    Thus, at least 85% inflexibility in what we can employ.

  6. Harry says:

    Do common core standards have the flexibility to test students for purposes of placement on the most appropriate academic or vocational track? That’s the only real benefit of testing, but may not be politically correct in the opinion of the educational establishment.

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