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State Senate bill would repeal Common Core in Michigan

Screen shot from Michigan Senate Stream

With so many people in Michigan trying to solve the puzzle of the struggling school system, State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, has another idea: Repeal Common Core. 

Colbeck's senate bill, currently in the education subcommittee, would remove the Common Core standards. It would also reaffirm a parents' right to have their child opt out of standardized testing.

The bill would have Michigan use the 2008-2009 Massachusetts school standards. Massachusetts is considered one of the leading school systems in the country. 

In his testimony to the education committee Tuesday, Colbeck said Michigan's schools have continued to struggle since adopting Common Core in 2010. He said the standards require too much testing for the sake of data collection, arguing a more localized school system wouldn't have as much of a need for data.

Overall, Colbeck wants more local control of schools.

"The beauty of a local education system is that the decisions are being made about what kids get educated on at the level that is most impacted by those decisions," he said.

But Bob Kefgen said this is a mischaracterization.

Kefgen is the assistant director for government relations of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals. Common Core only requires certain education standards, not specific curriculum, he explained. Local districts and schools can still make their own choices. 

He called the state's current standards part of a "Michigan-led" effort.

"What the state board did was to adopt a set of Michigan state standards," he said. "So, to say that we just have the Common Core off the shelf is not accurate."

Another factor here is consistency: Kefgen said Michigan hasn't had enough of it. 

Since adopting the Common Core standards, the state also changed from the MEAP standardized test to the M-STEP, which has higher proficiency standards than the old test.  Kefgen said teachers and school administrators have a difficult time catching up when the standards change frequently, and the most recent changes should help students improve.

He said when the Legislature originally debated the current regulations, they found they "are rigorous, they are valuable for Michigan students, and we need to stay the course on Michigan's current set of standards.

"If we continue to move the goal line, if we continue to change our expectations, we can't reasonably expect our students and teachers and schools to keep up with that."