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Alabama Congresswoman Takes Aim at Common Core Standards

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, a Republican from Alabama, has introduced a bill that would prohibit the U.S. Department of Education and the education secretary from using federal grant money or waivers to encourage states to adopt common standards or tests.

This standalone bill—which is similar to language contained in the 2012 House version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—comes as some states are embroiled in heated debates over their participation in the Common Core State Standards.

Roby's home state of Alabama, for instance, has recently withdrawn from one of the common-testing consortia, and its state lawmakers debated—but ultimately decided against—a bill to also withdraw from the common core.

"The Executive Branch has exceeded its appropriate reach where state education policy is concerned, and it's time to rein it in," Roby, a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said in a press release.

Last month, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, urged Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat who also hails from the Hawkeye State, to include language in the bill that funds the Education Department prohibiting the education secretary from using any of the money in the measure to oversee state implementation of the standards, develop tests to go along with the standards, or give a leg up in any federal competition to states that adopt the standards. (Harkin's response was that common core is still a state-led effort.)

Roby's bill wouldn't prohibit federal officials from endorsing a particular set of standards, nor does it take a stance on the common core specifically. It bars any indirect or direct federal mandate that involves a state or school's "instruction content, academic standards and assessments, curricula, or program of instruction..."

According to Roby's office, the bill has the support of Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., the chairman of the House education committee's subcommittee on K-12 policy.

"Rep. Roby believes filing this standalone bill and working the issue ahead of ESEA reauthorization will raise awareness of the problem and, ultimately, increase the likelihood of it becoming law one way or the other," said her spokesman, Todd Stacy.

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