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Arizona Capitol Times
By - email@example.com
Arizona senators defeated a sweeping amendment Monday aimed at preventing the state from participating in the Common Core and placing responsibility for approving educational standards in the hands of lawmakers.
Sen. Rick Murphy’s amendment to HB2458, Rep. Paul Boyer’s measure to weed out fraud in Arizona’s empowerment scholarship accounts, was defeated in the Senate. Originally ruled “adopted” in the Senate’s Committee of the Whole, the measure was killed on a division vote, 11-17.
The amendment would have, among other things, prohibited Arizona from accepting federal funds connected to nationwide academic standards and prohibited student-level assessment data from being shared with the federal government. A key part of the Common Core standards is the sharing of data to track student achievement. Common Core opponents argue that the federal government coerced states into adopting the Common Core using Race to the Top grants.
Lawmakers would also have had a final say over whatever new state standards the Arizona Board of Education adopted.
“What background do we have to figure out whether or not an academic standard is appropriate?” said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson. “What have we done to learn about how to create curriculum, how kids best achieve? It’s time to get politics out of education.”
Murphy argued that Arizona would be better off developing its own standards and maintaining local control of the state’s curriculum.
The Peoria Republican argued that he’s in favor of higher standards, and that’s why he’s proposing the amendment. Some parts of Arizona’s current curriculum have higher standards than the ones prescribed by Common Core, he said.
“Many of the people who are supporting Common Core now are the same folks who voted to water down our tests and water down the AIMS standard with other ways to pass, because heaven forbid someone wouldn’t graduate,” Murphy said. “Do we actually have the backbone to have strong standards, which is what we need to have, to stick with when the time comes that there are going to be a group of students who don’t meet those standards, who just don’t do the work?”
Rep. Paul Boyer, the sponsor of HB2458, said he was comfortable with Murphy’s amendment because it would ensure local control for Arizona’s educational system and prevent data from being shared outside state lines.
Sen. Steve Gallardo said he was flabbergasted by efforts from some senators to nullify Common Core when just weeks ago, the Senate overwhelming passed a bill that eliminates AIMS as the state’s assessment.
The most likely replacement to AIMS is the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, better known as PARCC — a consortium of states working to develop an assessment to test a student’s proficiency according to Common Core standards.
The test is still in development and would have been eliminated from consideration under a provision in Murphy’s amendment that voids any academic standards adopted or in development before the effective date of the law.
“We already got rid of AIMS, so what are we going to use?” Gallardo said. “What are we going to use as an assessment that is required under federal law within our schools? We’re not going to have anything.”
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal serves on the governing board of PARCC. And Arizona educators have already been working to get Common Core standards implemented in schools, Farley said.
“Our state education board has been working for years to try and put [new education standards] in place and they’re ready to roll them out, and now we’re pulling the rug out from underneath them?” Farley said.
After defeating Murphy’s amendment, lawmakers later approved the underlying bill, which now awaits Third Read in the Senate.