On occasion, government acts best when it sits still. That happened in the recently completed session when the Alabama Legislature did not tamper with the state’s College and Career Ready Standards.
Alabama’s standards were based on the Common Core of standards the Obama administration liked enough to make them part of the president’s Race to the Top grant applications. That’s one reason why conspiracy theorists wrongly concluded that it was all part of a Washington-based plot to federalize Alabama education.
What happened next shows that the system can work. Parents, teachers, military and business leaders, and educators across the state not only rose in protest but also applied facts and reason to what opponents had turned into a baseless, irrational attack.
The fact that the standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (note the state emphasis) and were based on standards already adopted by states (note again) made little difference to the carping critics. President Obama approved of them — so they must be bad, critics said.
Sen. Scott Beason, the Gardendale Republican who can find a federal conspiracy behind every bush, introduced a bill in the Legislature that would repeal Alabama’s standards and replace them with some undetermined benchmark.
That was when supporters of the Alabama standards came to the defense of the Common Core. Anniston’s Del Marsh, president pro tem of the Senate, let the Beason bill quietly die.
Sen. Marsh pointed out that it was the responsibility of the Board of Education, not the Legislature, to set education policy in the state — a sentiment echoed by House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn.
Then to calm – we hope -- the furor Beason and his bunch had stirred up, U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, introduced legislation in Congress affirming that the states, not the federal government, set education policy.
So, we thank Sen. Marsh, Rep. Hubbard and all the legislators who did nothing and kept Alabama’s College and Career Ready Standards in place.