Bazzell: SB380 ‘not about local control’

Published 7:02 pm Friday, March 7, 2014

The Pike County Board of Education unanimously adopted a resolution expressing opposition to Senate Bill S.B. 380 at a called meeting Friday afternoon.

Senate Bill S.B. 380, authored by Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, would halt implementation of the Common Core standards in Alabama and would give local school districts greater control over implementation of Common Core.

Dr. Mark Bazzell, Pike County superintendent, called the bill “bad’ and told the board members it would be total chaos to have individual school districts draft their own set of standards.

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“I’m for local control. But this is not about local control,” Bazzell said. “What this is about is that the same group (Alabama Legislature) that decided we (school districts) weren’t smart enough to set our school calendars now thinks we aren’t smart enough to decide our curriculums. That would lead to total chaos.”

Bazzell said Common Core basically sets standards “for what we want kids to know and make sure they do.”

“The education that I received 30 years ago is not good enough now,” Bazzell said. “We live in an ever-shrinking world. Not giving kids the opportunity to be successful in today’s world is not fair.”

Bazzell said schools haven’t yet raised the bar. Students are graduating with honors but can’t score 17 on the ACT and high school graduates cannot produce in the workforce.

“Common Core did not come from the political arena,” he said. “It’s a misconception that Common Core is an intrusion by the federal government. No Child Left Behind was federal intrusion. It left no stone left unturned.

“Common Core is driven by business, industry and higher education. They want employees who can think and can be productive. They want employees who can cross-train because half the jobs that were available 10 years ago are not there anymore.”

Bazzell said if the goal of education is just for the kids to get a cap and gown, “We can do that.”

“But we want our kids to have something between the ears and to be prepared to go to work and be productive citizens,” he said.

Common Core provides the opportunity to raise the bar necessary for that to happen, he said.

“We owe it to the kids. Regardless of whether Senate Bill 380 passes, Pike County Schools are going to raise the bar,’ Bazzell said. “And we are going to require that our teachers use strategies that will make a difference in what the kids get.

“We want them to be able to think, to reason and to apply their knowledge. We want them to show up to work and do an honest day’s work when they get there.”

Allowing districts to opt out of the Common Core standards would defeat the purpose of setting a common goal and measure and would be a worse case scenario because it would not be fair to the kids, Bazzell said.