Risking a Step Backward: Maine Lawmakers File Legislation to Repeal the State’s Common Core Standards

Ahead of the 2016 legislative session, Maine State Representative Will Tuell filed a bill seeking to replace the state’s Common Core State Standards by the end of the 2016-17 school year. “For parents who recognize that Common Core is a mess and a disaster, you will have a real opportunity to make a difference, and begin to end this insanity,” Julie McDonald-Smith, a former Capitol Hill staffer and North Yarmouth resident, opines in The Forecaster.

But lawmakers should be leery of undoing the investment Maine teachers, students and parents have made in preparing for the Common Core over the past five years. Only one of the 45 states to initially adopt the Common Core—Oklahoma—has replaced the standards with a set of distinctly different academic expectations. As an analysis by the Collaborative for Student Success makes clear, the outcome has been tumultuous at best.

While most states have moved forward with high, comparable academic standards, “Oklahoma has taken a step backwards, reverting to an old set of demonstrably inferior education standards and setting schools on a rocky path of disruption, uncertainty and internal turmoil,” the white paper notes. “While other states are working to provide parents and teachers with better tools to measure student development toward college- and career-readiness, the future for Oklahoma’s academic standards—and its students—is less certain.”

In states that have taken steps to “replace” their Common Core State Standards, independent analysts struggle to find substantive difference between the states’ new standards and those they replaced.

In Indiana, for example, critics of the new standards point out that they are essentially a rebranding exercise because the new standards are virtually indistinguishable from the standards they replaced. One legislator who drove repeal efforts in Indiana, Sen. Scott Schneider, ultimately removed himself from his own bill and voted against it because he insisted the new standards were identical to the Common Core.

Likewise, in South Carolina conservatives insist the new Standards are almost identical to the old ones. According to the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee, the state’s new standards are more than 90 percent aligned with the Common Core.

While the term “Common Core” may still cause some opponents to bristle, policymakers are overwhelmingly sticking with the standards. They recognize the value of rigorous, consistent academic expectations and are building on the framework laid by the Common Core—exactly as the standards were designed. Most importantly, polling indicates that parents continue to strongly support high, consistent academic expectations that fully prepare students for college and careers—which is why the Common Core is here to stay.