The following guest commentary was written by State Rep. Frank Foster, R-Petoskey.
Over the past many weeks and months, many of you have been following the ongoing debate regarding the implementation of common core standards here in Michigan. Last week, our House of Representatives passed a resolution allowing the State Board of Education and Michigan Department of Education to continue spending money to implement the Common Core State Standards.
Michigan's constitution gives a very specific authority to our State Board of Education regarding the "leadership and general supervision over all public education," which shall serve as the "general planning and coordinating body" for our educational system. In June of 2010, the Board of Education adopted the common core standards and instructed our schools to begin planning for implementation of this program.
As your state representative, I respect the sanctity of our constitutional and the powers afforded to each of the three branches of government. I also share their beliefs in education standards that define minimum expectations and create an expectation of quality education, but not that mandate the methods, curriculum, nor the entirety of what students are taught.
Over these past months at various meetings and events across the district, I have also heard and responded to your concerns as members of our local community. I took those concerns and, with my colleagues, adopted some very specific and important stipulations that the Board of Education must follow when implementing these new standards in Michigan.
First, our state must be able to maintain the flexibility to amend this program at will, "with no threat of ramifications from the federal government";
Second, the Board of Education and the Michigan Department of Education may "not dictate curriculum or prescribe a particular method of instruction";
Third, "control over the creation and implementation of curriculum, textbooks, educational materials, and instructional methods shall remain under the control of the local school districts";
Fourth, in an effort to protect the "safety and security of their personally identifiable student information, we are preventing the collection and distribution of private student data "including but not limited to religion, political affiliations, or biometric data."
This discussion is not over. We will continue to monitor the implementation of these new common core standards. We also have required the Board of Education to report to the Legislature on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The report will show all available testing options including SBAC and others and the Legislature will evaluate the assessment during the 2014-15 budget next spring.
Moving forward, I will continue to prioritize ensuring every student gets a safe, high-quality education that prepares them to excel in a 21st century global economy.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily of the Petoskey News-Review or its employees.