By Harrison Blackmond, DFER-MI State Director
On Thursday, September 19, 2013, Democrats in the Michigan Senate offered an amendment to a supplemental spending bill that would eliminate a budget provision banning the State Department of Education from spending state funds to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) test. Despite numerous groups, members, and voters supporting CCSS, the amendment was defeated on a party line vote, with all 11 Democrats voting in favor of eliminating the ban and all 25 Republicans voting against lifting the ban.
An informal poll of Democrats in the Michigan House showed all but a handful of members support removing the ban, including House Minority Leader Tim Griemel. In addition, Democrats and, according to a recent poll released by Ed Trust-Midwest, over 70% of the public support Common Core, believing high standards along with a locally-developed curriculum will help Michigan children become college and career-ready.
Michigan educators and boards of education will continue to decide what and how subjects are taught, so long as student learning meets standards agreed upon by the governor and top state education officials.
Extreme Republicans in opposition to CCSS are engaging in scare tactics and conspiracy theories, even going so far as to label the Common Core “Obamacore.” This shows that what is in the best interest of our children, our state and its economy is NOT what matters to them.
The Common Core is clearly not a partisan issue. Republican governors even helped develop the standards and continue to be supportive. Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder has said he believes adopting the Common Core is a high priority for a state still recovering from the recent depression. National Republicans like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Michigan Governor John Engler are strong supporters. The state and national business communities have also been extremely active in trying to convince legislators that the standards are necessary if our workforce is going to compete with those in other industrialized countries, including China.
Scare tactics, threats and name-calling should not prevent Michigan lawmakers from doing what the overwhelming majority of Michiganders know is in our children’s and the state’s best interest: implement the Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Lawmakers should vote to eliminate the ban on funding the implementation of CCSS for the sake of our students and the future of our state. The House Education Committee is meeting tomorrow and may consider a resolution. House Speaker Jase Bolger (R) said yesterday that a vote by the full House on the Common Core could come this week.
For more than 35 years, Harrison Blackmond has dedicated his life towards helping children achieve the education they deserve. Harrison has served a multitude of roles within Michigan’s education system, including Chair of the Marygrove College Board of Trustees, President of the Business/Education Training Alliance, Vice Chairman and member of the Executive Committee of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, and President of the Detroit Black Alliance for Education Options. Read more about Harrison here.