Repeal and Replace…What’s next?

We are very encouraged by the progress of the bills (SB 826 and HB 5444) to Repeal and Replace Common Core( Math and ELA), science, social studies and assessments.

Rep. Glenn and Senator Colbeck announcing the Repeal and Replace bill last February.

SB 826 passed the Senate Education Committee as introduced and now awaits passage by the full Senate.  The rumors rumbling around Lansing that there could be a substitute bill are still there but the good news is that Senator Colbeck is “leading the charge” in the Senate.    Senator Colbeck’s strong commitment to transparency is well-documented on his website.

“I am a firm believer that we should know more about the government than the government knows about us. It is my hope that by providing constituents with the data behind the decisions, we can spark more thoughtful, fact-based discussions about what is in the best interests of our residents, our communities and our state. I will continue to strive to implement ‘real transparency’ as it pertains to my service as your state senator.”

This commitment to transparency is rare for politicians these days and should serve us well in making sure that if a substitute is offered “we the people” have a chance to read it before it passes.  Rep. Gary Glenn is the sponsor of the House version HB 5444.   He is also working diligently to make sure that the bill that is passed is a strong bill and not just a rebrand or with modifications that could water down its effectiveness.

Some have asked what could be put into a substitute that could be a problem?  That’s a great question.  We do NOT know for sure.   Here a few possible changes based on what has happened in other states and from some people familiar with the current process in Michigan:

    1.  Removing the assessment portion of the bill and only repealing the standards.  This is NOT acceptable.  The assessments are the hammer must accompany a true repeal of the standards.  The House Education Appropriations bill, if passed, has a provision for a “computer-adaptive” assessment is a bad idea and incompatible with our bill.   We are watching this aspect closely given history of assessments, where M-STEP was a rebrand of SBAC skirting around a prohibition in the 2015 budget.
    2.  Exemptions for “project based” or “discovery learning” that create loopholes big enough to allow curricula aligned to Common Core, Next Generation Science, and more to be used.
    3. Modified “definitions” that are broadly defined to allow data collection  for the testing of non-cognitive factors or “non-academic” competencies such as values, attittudes, or beliefs.
    4. Amended language which inlcudes requirements for “social-emotional learning.” According to a New York Times there is a push for “measure a student’s emotional skills.”  The article says that the social emotional learning relies on surveys asking students to “evaluate recent behaviors” or “mindsets” like how many days they remembered their homework or if they consider themselves a “hard worker.”
    5.  Modifications which are deemed “unconstitutional” similar to what was asserted in other states.   The Repeal and Replace bill was scrutinized by the legislative legal department and passed.  Further, Senator Colbeck did an excellent job defending the bill in the second Senate Education committee hearing in an exchange with the MDE on April 26.  (Audio archive here.)

The Senate is in session this week, May 10, 11, 12.  We were informed by Senator Colbeck’s office that it is on the agenda but when/if it will be taken up is unknown.   We will be watching and continue to provide infomation as it becomes available.  Please continue to contact your State Senator and encourage them to vote “yes” on SB 826 as INTRODUCED by Senator Colbeck and PASSED by the Senate Education Commitee.

Please also contact your state Representatives and encourage them to call House Education Committee Chair Rep. Amanda Price and ask her to move HB 5444 through the House Education Committee.