SB 167: It Was Never About Common Core

Now that SB 167 has died in committee, let’s clear the air about a few misconceptions regarding SB 167.

1) SB 167 as it passed the Senate would not have removed Georgia from Common Core standards.  This is not debatable.  This is fact.

2) SB 167’s proponents continued to talk about wanting “tougher standards”, but would never answer questions about the specific standards they found objectionable in the existing Common Core.  That’s because they’re not really worried about these standards.  They’re worried about the standards that are coming.  For the record, current standards are up for review this year anyway.  SB 167 would have pushed the legally required review cycle from 4 years to 5 years.   You get quicker and more regular curriculum reviews without a bill, rather than with SB 167.

3) The public presence of Mike Griffin, speaking on behalf of the bill representing the Georgia Baptist Convention, was the “big tell” as to what is really the motivation behind SB 167.  It was at his church, after all, where Paul Broun uttered the now famous line that evolution and the big bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell.”

4) As if to remove any doubt as to what the true intentions of SB 167’s supporters were, Tonya Ditty, State Director of Concerned Women For America made it clear to Walter Jones in no uncertain terms:

Tonya Ditty, state director of Concerned Women of America, said the math and English standards that have already been agreed to by the states using the Common Core would soon be followed by history and social studies. And she said that would be a repeat of a similar attempt in the 1990s that stalled in the face of public outcry over its treatment of family values.

“Our concern has been that if we don’t stop this participation, that that’s going to be the next thing that will be brought in,” she said.

Ditty warned that global warming and evolution would likely be treated as settled questions in any national science standards without including the skepticism conservatives have for both.

As I said last week, SB 167 wasn’t about Common Core Math or English standards.  This is about a small, vocal group of people who start all policy discussions with the belief that the basic tenets of science are lies from the pit of hell.  Common Core was a convenient boogey man, but this bill wasn’t about removing Georgia from Common Core.  It was about using the relative unpopularity of one initiative  to enshrine roadblocks to teaching basic scientific principles in Georgia schools.

Education is about expanding the base of knowledge.  SB 167 was about constraining that knowledge to a pre-determined subset of facts that fit in one group’s belief system.  Kudos again to the House Committee on Education for killing this bill that was bad for Georgia’s kids, bad for Georgia’s teachers, and just plain bad for Georgia.

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