March 21.

Chalk up another blow against the rapidly crumbling edifice of the Common Core educational standards — this time courtesy of an Alabama state senator who suddenly, but fortunately, changed positions as he considers a run for the U.S. Senate.

Reformers against Common Core, and for more local control of education, surely will accept this well-timed conversion with gratitude, no matter what factors motivated it.

In February, I reported on new Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ moves to remove Common Core from his state, which would make it the fifth state to repeal the standards after having once adopted them. Alabama now stands on the verge of being the sixth, as well it should.

Core critics have correctly said that “the reading standards devalued classic literatureand encouraged cultural values antithetical to tradition and decency; that the math standards encouraged complicated, new-fangled approaches while discouraging teaching methodologies that had worked for centuries; and, among sundry other drawbacks, that it discouraged cursive writing, even as science was showing conclusively that cursive aids juvenile brain development.”

In Alabama, despite its reputation for educational backwardness, K-12 educational attainment by 2011 ranked a solid 25th among the 50 states, according to Education Week magazine. Alas, that was the year the Core was adopted. After seven years of Common Core, by 2018, Alabama’s rating had dropped to 43rd.

Education policy in Alabama is usually the province of an elected state board of education, but any state legislative act, duly signed into law, can override the board’s policies. The board, dominated by the state education establishment, refused to repeal the Core even as test scores fell.

When anti-Core activists begged the state legislature for relief, legislative support for repeal at various times seemed strong, and the appropriate Senate committee once passed a repeal bill. Each time, though, state Senate President Del Marsh, a Republican closely tied to the Business Council of Alabama that was the Core’s biggest booster, refused to allow any repeal bill to receive floor consideration….. [The rest of the column is here.]


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