WAAY 31 I-TEAM: Opponents take up fight against Common Core in Alabama

Common Core is in place in Alabama schools. But, some folks would like to see the controversial state standards go. You can count lawmakers among the opponents.

Posted: May 28, 2019 6:45 PM
Updated: May 29, 2019 6:41 PM

Alabama senators passed an education bill that would eliminate the controversial Common Core State Standards.

But Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Christie Finley says that would be a mistake. 

Finley said, in part, “… The Huntsville area has a vast number of residents that move in from many other parts of the country, and it is crucial to have standards in place to make a smooth transition into our school system. The many companies, industries, and military want it, students need it, and parents expect it. Huge efforts were made to invest in the materials and training for our educators across the state to be able to teach these standards to our students…” (You can read Finley's entire statement at the end of this article.)

When Common Core came out a decade ago, most states adopted it. Major teachers unions claimed it would prepare students for their careers.

Six states have since dropped the federal standards. Now, Alabama is poised to follow suit.

When Common Core came to Alabama, it never really made a splash. Just ask Tracye Kirby. “I don’t like it,” Kirby told WAAY 31. We caught up with Kirby at a water park playing with her 2-year-old great-nephew Braxton.

Kirby has a daughter in high school. A common complaint about common core is that it discourages parental involvement. Because of new teaching techniques, sometimes trying to help with math homework just doesn’t add up.

“It’s very hard for us as parents to help our children,” Kirby explained. “They want our help. And when you tell them you can’t do it and you’ll have to ask your teachers, they’re very lost.”

“Common Core, depending on who you talk to, can mean many things," Mike Parsons told WAAY 31. He leads an effort called Save Alabama’s Values and Education.

“We try, best we can, to expose some of these concerns,” Parsons told us.

Parsons points out that a decade ago Alabama schools were performing better than they are now.
According to Education Week magazine, Alabama was 25th overall in “National Education Standing.”

“But, in 2010, we started to transform our educational system in Alabama as we adopted the standards,” he explained. By 2016, on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the state’s 8th grade math scores ranked 51st, behind Washington, D.C., and defense department schools.

“What I think people would want is Alabama improving their educational standards and the education students are getting and that is not happening,” Parsons said.

Alabama adopted the standards of Common Core. But, critics say the state department of education gave it a different name to avoid political backlash. 

“This is misleading at best,” he said. “A lot of your educators will tell you we don’t have Common Core, we have Alabama College and Career Ready Standards.”

Parsons said that misses the point.

“We’re still using 100% Common Core standards,” he said.

Centralized control is what makes it rotten to the core, according to Parsons. Supporters argue the one-size-fits-all system standardizes school districts across the U.S. But, Parsons insists losing local control isn’t worth it.

He figures the lack of local focus is what’s dragging down our schools’ performance. Parsons says those national standards are molding our Alabama students and locking them in on specific jobs as early as 8th grade.

“We’re starting to transfer a tremendous amount of influence to the state and federal government to decide the career path of our children,” Parsons said.

Another problem for Parsons is privacy. A key component of Common Core is collecting a huge amount of data on students. Parents don’t get the chance to opt in or out.

“A lot of the data that’s being collecting on students really isn’t going away,” he said. “And a lot of our parents can’t envision how this data’s being used.”

Mike Parsons believes Common Core simply doesn’t work and takes too much control from local schools and parents. “It’s a socialist template anyway you go,” he told us. “It’s almost like education is starting to take over a big piece of parenting.”

Back at the water park, “Go back to what worked before,” Tracye Kirby said. “It wasn’t broken. Don’t fix it.” She’d like to see Alabama get rid of Common Core. “I liked the ‘old school’ method.”

WAAY 31 reached out to the Alabama Department of Education. But, we haven’t heard back.
We’re also planning a one-on-one interview with Huntsville school superintendent Christie Finley to hear more from her.

Here’s Finley’s entire statement to WAAY 31:

"The College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) provide a universal benchmark for our students that ensures they are receiving the same rigor as other students from across the country. CCRS are the backbone of student assessments, such as the ACT, a key element to help students in their goal of preparing for college. The Huntsville area has a vast number of residents that move in from many other parts of the country, and it is crucial to have standards in place to make a smooth transition into our school system. The many companies, industries, and military want it, students need it, and parents expect it. Huge efforts were made to invest in the materials and training for our educators across the state to be able to teach these standards to our students.

It is important to note that “standards” and “curriculum” are not the same. Standards are the learning goals for what students should know and be able to do at a particular grade level. Our school district, just as any school district in Alabama, chooses the curriculum that is used in our classrooms. We all want to increase academic success, and that goal can only be achieved by improving, not discarding, the resources we have."

Huntsville
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 63°
Florence
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 66°
Fayetteville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 63°
Scottsboro
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 63°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 138162

Reported Deaths: 2405
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 196139

Reported Deaths: 2454
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31202472
Davidson26874312
Hamilton968795
Knox968180
Rutherford952392
Williamson542336
Sumner492298
Wilson360547
Putnam338344
Montgomery317446
Unassigned30834
Madison306366
Bradley298817
Out of TN293927
Sevier267715
Blount258924
Maury245726
Washington239338
Sullivan226533
Robertson225539
Hamblen196528
Tipton186019
Gibson174625
Trousdale16757
Hardeman158926
Wayne15055
Dyer143017
Bedford138017
Coffee130214
Dickson129716
Fayette123621
Weakley123421
Loudon12267
Anderson122413
Cumberland122319
Obion122011
Carter119928
Henderson119524
Greene118546
McMinn117626
Jefferson116114
Lawrence110814
Warren10857
Monroe108319
Hardin107716
Macon107021
Lauderdale101716
Franklin101010
Haywood100623
McNairy93018
Lake9282
Carroll91720
Roane9176
Bledsoe8644
Rhea86315
White85610
Hawkins84320
Cheatham8289
Marshall7915
Overton7826
Cocke75910
Johnson7523
Smith74511
Giles65417
Chester65311
Lincoln6461
Henry64010
Hickman6128
Fentress5884
DeKalb57614
Crockett55819
Marion5558
Decatur5387
Campbell4674
Claiborne4495
Polk41010
Grainger4043
Union3822
Benton3428
Jackson3355
Grundy3266
Morgan3253
Cannon3041
Unicoi2921
Humphreys2683
Sequatchie2493
Clay2435
Houston2432
Meigs2313
Scott2252
Stewart2232
Lewis2111
Moore1881
Van Buren1670
Perry1530
Pickett1312
Hancock1093

Community Events