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State House approves funding for Common Core school standards

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state House has voted to reinstate funding for the Common Core state school standards.

More than 40 other states have chosen to adopt the standards, which set yearly expectations for what students should learn at every grade level in math and language arts.

But earlier this year, Michigan lawmakers temporarily barred the state from spending money to implement Common Core. A legislative panel was formed to study the issue over the summer, and its chair, Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Twp.) crafted a resolution based on more than 17 hours of public testimony.

The resolution, HRC 11, funds the implementation of Common Core under certain conditions. Among other things, the standards could not dictate curriculum to local school districts, or require particular teaching methods.

State Rep. Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge) had serious concerns about Common Core going into Thursday’s vote. But she said the resolution and some last-minute changes to it addressed those issues.

“We need to lift the pause button so our schools can proceed forward, but with more safeguards and accountability in place,” Abed said on the House floor Thursday.

Chair of the state House Committee, Rep. Lisa Lyons (R-Alto), took the bill up earlier in the day. The panel approved it 11-5.

“The question is, how do we have these standards without mitigating local control?” Lyons said after the full House vote. “And I think what we did with the resolution here ensures and enshrines this legislature’s belief that the local districts should have as much control as possible.”

Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) has led the charge in Lansing against Common Core, and voted against the resolution in committee and on the House floor. He says he’s not yet convinced the conditions in the resolution will prevent the standards from stripping local and state control of school curriculum.

“We have no idea if the harmful standards will be corrected in the future or not,” said McMillin. “We don’t know what the future standards are. So I really have a problem with Michigan people not having a decision on what the standards will be.”

The resolution now goes to the state Senate, which has not committed to taking it up.

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