MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama's State School Board of Education defied their president and governor's wishes by reaffirming a commitment to the Common Core Standards.
Gov. Robert Bentley had prepared a resolution to rescind the state's commitment to the standards which were established by the National Association of Governors. The United States Department of Education later linked federal education grants to participation in the program among other criteria. Governor Bentley characterized the Common Core Standards as another federal government overreach.
"We have given the federal government certain powers and anything beyond those powers belongs to the states" Gov. Bentley said before an audience of about 150 people which included school administrators and those for and against the standards.
The governor said about education goals and curricula, "That does not belong to the federal government. Education does not belong to the federal government it belongs to the states"
State board members were not afraid to push back on the state's chief executive.
"As it stands right now, I haven't seen any evidence to convince me otherwise from the vote we took a year ago" said Mary Scott Hunter who represents the Huntsville area on the board.
She also went into the propaganda that had been distributed around the state about what she described as a myth of federal intrusion on the state's public schools.
"When you promulgate materials that talk about homosexuality and Obama standards and you put these types of words out people believe you and you need to be really careful" Hunter said.
Another board member, Dr. Charles Elliott who represents the Decatur area, argued similarly that much of misinformation clouded the actual goal of the board: what's best for Alabama children.
"I haven't received one email or letter from someone who said they were concerned with Alabama's children" Elliott said.
Gov. Bentley later countered saying that the state has never had a governor who cared about children as much as he does.
Board members also argued that Alabama's current standards for public schools are simply woven into the Common Core Standards and that the national set is not the exclusive benchmark for the state.
Stephanie Bell, who represents parts of Montgomery, had been vocal earlier in the week about rescinding the Common Core Standards. She reiterated her stance at Thursday's meeting saying that Alabama's public schools had made major strides in recent years without the assistance or guidance of any sort of national standards.
State Sen. Dick Brewbaker, (R – Montgomery), had said earlier in the week that he couldn't reasonably support any sort of educational mandate without knowing the cost. Complying with the standards will lead to new textbooks but there is no assessment in place to assure compliance with the Common Standards. In other words, there is no federal government or Department of Education oversight.
45 states utilize the Common Core Standards. Minnesota, Virginia, Nebraska, Alaska, and Texas have decided in recent years against adopting them.
At perhaps the debate's climax, board vice president Randy McKinney presented a rival resolution to Gov. Bentley's. McKinney's resolution reaffirmed the state's commitment to them while making it clear that Alabama's State School Board of Education will be the only entity making any curriculum and goal decisions for the state's children.
Governor Bentley requested that last year's resolution be rescinded and the new resolution be adopted but a majority of board didn't want to do that.
In defending the decision the board made last year, when Gov. Bob Riley was the president of the board, McKinney said, "These are good standards. We want these standards. We raised the bar for education, for students of Alabama. We did the right thing."
The board eventually voted 6-3 to reaffirm its commitment to the Common Core Standards.
A previous version of this story was corrected. It mistakenly read that Wisconsin, not Minnesota had not adopted the Common Core Standards.