LANSING (AP) — Efforts to continue putting in place more rigorous and uniform national education standards in Michigan cleared a key hurdle Thursday when the Senate chose to let the state spend money on the benchmarks again.
Left until later, though, is a legislative decision on what new standardized tests should accompany the contentious Common Core State Standards in the 2014-15 school year.
Since Oct. 1, the state has been unable to spend money to help implement the math and reading standards in K-12 schools because of a provision in the budget pausing the work until the Legislature says it is OK to proceed. The standards won approval from the state education board with little fanfare three years ago but have since divided conservatives, despite winning broad support in the business and education communities and from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
Reflecting the tension among Republicans, the GOP-led Senate approved a resolution, which is not a bill and does not go to the governor, on a voice vote instead of taking a recorded roll call vote. The Republican-controlled House passed a similar measure last month and is expected to OK Senate changes next week. The state Education Department immediately resumed Common Core-related activities on Thursday.
“To help all our students succeed, our collective work needs to be focused on having rigorous standards; effective and valuable assessments aligned to those standards; and high quality and effective educators,” Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a written statement.
The Common Core standards adopted by 45 states demand critical thinking and problem solving that backers say will give students an education that’s competitive with other countries.
But critics question the benchmarks and associated tests, calling them a national intrusion into local control of public schools.
“It’s a national standard that will be increasingly referenced by our federal government as a tool to influence state education policies,” said Sen. Patrick Colbeck, a Republican from Wayne County’s Canton Township.