Advocates for the Common Core State Standards are likely heaving a sigh of relief after learning that ALEC, an influential advocacy group with a conservative bent, voted down a resolution opposing the new standards being implemented in all but four states.
In effect, the action by the group's legislative board of directorswhose members are all state lawmakersmeans that ALEC "will remain neutral on the common core, but will continue to oppose any efforts by the federal government to mandate curriculum," as the group indicates in a statement. For more detailed analysis, check out my colleague Andrew Ujifusa's blog post over at State EdWatch.
The statement from the American Legislative Exchange Council acknowledged that the common core has proved to be an "emotional and contentious issue" for ALEC's Education Task Force, which had earlier adopted the anti-common-core resolution.
As we've reported, the common core has been divisive in conservative circles, with some expressing sharp opposition, but influential voices like former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida in strong support.
Checker Finn, a champion of the common core who heads up the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, hailed ALEC's action in a blog post, saying the vote would keep the organization from "pressuring its members and states in either direction. This was the logical outcome for a group that generally respects state sovereignty in realms such as education."
Last January, ALEC did pass a resolution opposing "federal intrusion in state education content standards." But as Andrew points out in his blog post, the common standards are not officially a federal effort, but a collaborative state enterprise (with the feds offering up some powerful incentives for states to adopt the standards).
For all you ever wanted to know about ALEC and its work to influence education policy, check out this EdWeek profile from last spring.
Briefly, the group includes state legislators and representatives from various corporations that provide ALEC with funding. It is split into task forces co-chaired by public- and private-sector representatives that draft model legislation.