PHOENIX — Ignoring pleas from business leaders, the Senate Education Committee voted 6-3 along party lines Thursday to bar Arizona from implementing the Common Core standards the state adopted just four years earlier.
Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, who championed SB 1310, said he does not doubt that the concept of some nationally recognized standards started out as a "pretty admirable pursuit by the private sector and governors.''
"It got hijacked by Washington, by the federal government,'' he said. And Melvin, a candidate for governor, said that "as a conservative Reagan Republican I'm suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general, but also any standards that are coming out of that department.''
Melvin's opposition led Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, to question him as to whether he's actually read the Common Core standards that have been adopted by 45 states.
"I've been exposed to them,'' Melvin responded.
Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands that "some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.'' And he said the program uses "fuzzy math,'' substituting letters for numbers in some examples.
Approval of SB 1310 was just part of the attack by the Republicans on the Education Committee on Common Core.
The panel approved three other measures that, in one form or another, would take away the power of the state to set educational standards and instead leave that role to local school boards. The only requirement would be these local standards could be no lower than those set by the Board of Education in 1999.
And the committee defeated another bill that would have paved the way for a pilot program to replace textbooks with computers. Even here, foes like parent Jennifer Reynolds said she sees the computers as part of Common Core — and part of a move to have students "indoctrinated of the concepts of global warming, evolution, defaming the founders.''
The votes took place despite warnings from corporate executives and business groups that any move away from Common Core is a bad idea.
Read this story in Friday's Star.