Ligon throws in the towel on trying to stop Common Core standards

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State Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) essentially admitted defeat Wednesday in his legislative attempts to reverse Georgia’s adoption of “Common Core” curriculum standards in K-12 public schools.

Ligon said he would not support changes made by a House committee to his bill, SB 167, that was introduced to try to force Georgia schools to stop following the educational guidelines already adopted here and in 45 other states.

“I have communicated with committee members, Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Georgia and American Principles in Action (APIA) that I cannot support this House substitute circulated out on Monday and Tuesday because it does nothing to stop our state from continuing its involvement in the national standards movement,” Ligon said.

“When I entered the effort to withdraw Georgia from the national Common Core standards, I knew it would be an uphill struggle,” Ligon said. “Since that time, big business interests and the top leadership of educational lobby groups have mischaracterized the bill language.”

After Ligon dropped his support of SB 167, the House Education Committee voted 13-5 Wednesday afternoon to kill the bill.

The committee vote “fortifies educators’ current work in implementing standards that raise the academic and critical thinking bars for our children,” said Calvine Rollins, president of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE).

“This bill had several versions that experienced in-depth evaluations, but the bottom line is the committee voted today to put our children’s educational needs ahead of political agendas,” Rollins said.

“The chamber thanks the members of the House Education Committee for listening to the concerns of educators, parents, local school boards and most importantly, our students,” said Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark, who supported the Common Core standards.

The Common Core curriculum guidelines were initiated several years ago by Republican governors like Sonny Perdue, who still supports the standards, and were voluntarily adopted by the Georgia Board of Education in 2010.

After the Obama Administration came out in support of the guidelines, however, tea party Republican groups denounced Common Core as being part of a “conspiracy” to bring about a federal takeover of public education.

More moderate Republicans like state school Supt. John Barge, state Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) and Charlie Harper of the Republican website Peach Pundit have continued to support the Common Core concept.

When he qualified to run for governor last week, Barge cautioned that a withdrawal from the Common Core standards could put $1 billion in federal funding at risk and “would wreck what’s left of teacher morale in this state.”

Harper wrote this week that Ligon’s bill “isn’t about standards. It’s about fear. It’s about appeasing a small faction of perpetually frustrated activists. But it’s not about educating Georgia’s public school children.”

When the House Education Committee held a hearing on SB 167, Ligon was asked to identify which of the Common Core standards he actually opposed.

“Could you specify for me two or three standards that you have concerns about?” Rep. Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) asked. “Could you tell me exactly which ones?”

“I would have to go and look,” Ligon said.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Amy Carter , Common Core , curriculum guidelines , Georgia withdrawal , Sonny Perdue , tea party Republicans , William Ligon