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Bills to Repeal Common Core Hit Roadblocks; Will Reviews Satisfy Foes?

As I discuss in a story being published this week, a review of bills to end the Common Core State Standards in state legislatures show that opponents of the standards don't have a single outright victory so far this year. Repeal efforts have fallen flat in Arizona, Montana, West Virginia, and a host of other states so far.

In 2013 and 2014, I've produced bill trackers so that folks can follow the path of previous repeal and "pause implementation" efforts. This year, I've decided to defer to Dan Thatcher at the National Conference of State Legislatures, who has created an extensive and frequently updated bill tracker of not just repeal bills, but legislation impacting testing and accountability. Click here to go to his "dashboard" of standards-related legislation—you can also filter the bills by multiple categories to see legislation that affects more than one policy area.

In the story, I briefly discuss bills that would require a review, not the repeal, of the common core, including one bill that failed (in West Virginia) and one bill that the state legislature passed (in Mississippi). Last year, legislation passed that initiated such reviews in Missouri and North Carolina. And this year in Mississippi, a repeal bill was altered to require such a review.

But Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, doesn't appear eager to follow what Missouri and North Carolina did last year. In fact, Bryant, who has indicated opposition to the common core, made this announcement on his Facebook page on April 1 about Senate Bill 2161, but hasn't acted since:

PhilBryantCommonCore.PNGBryant linked to a Clarion-Ledger story, in which the governor indicated his fear that the process to review the standards would ultimately be toothless:

So if Bryant is any indicator, it's possible that common-core-review bills won't pass muster with policymakers opposed to the standards. That position, of course, might narrow their options for success even further. (It's also worth remembering that Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina has supported the standards even though he signed the state's review bill last year, and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has also expressed support for the standards.)

Bryant has until April 24 to sign the bill. No other state legislature has approved a bill to review standards themselves, according to Thatcher's tracker, although a few states are at least seriously considering reviewing the nature of their testing regimens.

In the story, I also mentioned Louisiana GOP Rep. Brett Geymann's plan to repeal common core in his state by keeping repeal bills out of education committees in the legislature. How's that strategy going? Not well—the Louisiana House of Representatives voted down that proposal on April 20.

On the other hand, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted unanimously the same day to replace the common core—the state Senate approved the measure on April 21, the Associated Press reported, and sent it to Gov. Bill Haslam, who said he'll sign it. The bill doesn't require an immediate revocation of the standards. The bill would create a new commission, with a majority of its members appointed by legislators and the rest by Haslam (a common-core supporter), tasked with recommending new standards to the state school board. The state board, in turn, could send back these recommendations to this commission for revisions, but couldn't do so more than twice.

The bill also states, "Any standards adopted by the state board upon the recommendation of the commission shall be separate and distinct from the Common Core State Standards." How various policymakers would define "separate and distinct" is open to interpretation. 

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