New Course in Michigan May Mean Greater Risks Than Benefits

State Representative Gary Glenn of Midland recently introduced legislation to repeal state Common Core educational standards in Michigan, according to John Kennett of Midland Daily News. Rep. Glenn and his fellow bill supporters claim that the high-quality comparable standards of Common Core are not working and do not take into account local educators’ input.

Not only are the legislator and his colleagues misconstruing the facts, but their actions could risk putting Michigan’s students at greater risk by eliminating these high-quality standards.

”Ultimately, our own local school boards and educational leaders — not the federal government – know what’s best for Michigan students,” Glenn said about the issue.

That’s an interesting comment, considering Glenn’s own Superintendent of Midland schools was not involved in the development of Glenn’s legislation before it was introduced.   As Superintendent Michael Sharrow told Midland Daily News, “It is always disappointing when legislation is proposed without those in the profession being a part of it. The Common Core became a political stone to throw when it is purely a local curriculum issue.”

On the other hand, the Common Core State Standards were developed by educators, experts, and state leaders from 49 states across the country. They were then voluntarily adopted by states, and states continue to lead implementation efforts.  The passage of ESSA goes further to ensure federal authorities have no control over states’ education standards — whether they choose the Common Core or another set of education standards.

As for the claim that the Common Core standards aren’t working, results shows otherwise.   Local educators and families recognize the need to have high-quality standards remain in schools as they create greater flexibility and creativity.   More than 20 Teachers of the Year from the across the country recently defended using high, comparable standards arguing, “teachers have greater flexibility to design their classroom lessons – and can, for the first time, take advantage of the best practices from great teachers in other states.”

Michigan lawmakers looking to dump the Common Core standards should also look to those few states that have walked down that path.   For example, in an effort to appease critics, Oklahoma officials there pledged to replace the Common Core with “superior” education standards. However, by all accounts, the resulting standards fell far short of that goal.

Glenn’s legislation also includes a measure where parents could have their children opt out of taking the agreed upon assessments. As we have discussed before,  opt-out efforts undermine the integrity and value of good exams, and they do little to improve testing policy. They put students at a disadvantage – and not just children of families that opt out, but all children.

Walking away from the Common Core standards already in place in Michigan puts students, educators, and families at too great a risk.   We hope Representative Glenn and his colleagues realize it before the costs become too hefty for Michigan and its’ future success.