State Board of Education could push forward with Common Core despite legislative ban on funding

The president of the State Board of Education said Wednesday that the board has the authority to implement the Common Core State Standards, but acknowledged that funding the implementation process would be problematic without support from lawmakers.

After three years of preparation by school employees and administrators, the state Legislature abruptly pulled the plug on Common Core funding this summer when it passed the state’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget, which takes effect Oct. 1.

Every school in Michigan will fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress and will lose federal aid unless the Legislature restores funding forCommon Core as soon as possible.

Despite the Legislature’s actions to defund Common Core, State Board of Education President John Austin told the House Education Common Core Standards Subcommittee that local school districts could still implement the standards — and the state board will encourage them to.

“We as a board will continue to exhort them through policy,” Austin told lawmakers, according the MIRS newsletter. “If you hold money to support their implementation, it will only be a disservice to the districts that want to continue to implement them as being better, tighter pieces of this high standards expectation set that we in Michigan have already advanced.”

Without proper funding, “We would face diminished ability potentially to facilitate the training and the support for [school districts],” Austin said.

The State Department of Education agreed with Austin’s contention that the State Board of Education, and not the Legislature, has policymaking authority over education standards.

“State law gives the State Board of Education the responsibility to establish education standards and recommend them to local school districts,” the department said in a statement, according to MIRS, “and state law gives local school districts the responsibility to create their own curriculum.”

The loudest voices in opposition to the standards mistakenly claim that Common Core is part of an effort to nationalize our school system. Many opponents contend that once the standards are adopted, they can’t be changed.

Not true, Austin said, telling the panel: “We approved the standards, we can change standards, we can adopt new standards. That’s our job.”

Unless the Legislature restores funding for Common Core, the state faces the following consequences:

  • Michigan will lose its flexibility waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, immediately making every school in Michigan accountable for having 100 percent of students proficient in math and reading.
  • Not a single public school will qualify as making AYP, resulting in NCLB sanctions like providing students with choice and transportation to other school districts, costly tutoring services, and much more.
  • Local districts will once again have to change learning standards for teachers and students, and will be forced to base teacher evaluations on the old MEAP and Michigan Merit Exam.
  • School districts will lose untold amounts of federal Title I funds that would have otherwise gone to help underprivileged students.