Carroll County Times

State stands against proposals to delay Common Core, committee hears more Arundel bills

No. No. No.

State Sen. Ed Reilly, R-Crofton, presented three bills to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday that would delay implementation of Common Core State Standards and delay new exams, as well as teacher and principal evaluations.

Each of Reilly's bills got essentially the same reaction from the Maryland Department of Education, which has defended the standards during the 2014 General Assembly session.

"We should not be afraid of higher standards," said Jack Smith, chief academic officer for the Department of Education. "We should not pause."

Reilly and other lawmakers have submitted legislation to allow or require the state to go slower on the implementation of Common Core. They cite comments from frustrated teachers and parents who don't believe the state needs to change the way it teaches kids.

A bill from Del. Michael Smigiel, R-Caroline, would rescind the state's adoption of the Common Core standards, which has been ongoing for more than a year. That bill, which was pre-filed and heard on Feb. 5 by the House Ways and Means Committee, has yet to receive a vote.

Last month the Anne Arundel County delegation held a public hearing on the state's adoption of Common Core standards.

At the hearing, lawmakers said the standards, coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, were pushed onto schools too quickly.

One of Reilly's bills would allow counties to delay Common Core at their own discretion.

Another, Senate Bill 578, would also delay the implementation of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers assessments to the 2015-16 school year, and allow counties to determine when to implement PARCC after June 30, 2015.

The PARCC assessments are intended to replace Maryland State Assessments because of Common Core.

The third bill Reilly pushed Wednesday, Senate Bill 579, would delay the evaluation of teachers and principals in state public schools until the 2015-16 school year.

Advocates of the measure say evaluations shouldn't be done while the curriculum is being overhauled.

While the evaluations bill was not discussed much at Wednesday's hearing, Smith said any pause in implementation of Common Core or the PARCC assessments could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

Delaying the rollout of the PARCC assessments, Smith said, would put the state out of compliance with the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The Department of Legislative Services, which advises the legislators on bills, says the same.

In the fiscal note it drafted for the bill, the DLS says up to $280.9 million in federal Title I and other federal funds annually will be in jeopardy until the PARCC assessments are implemented in every school system in the state.

Smith said a pause would mean "chaos and confusion" for teachers and staff who have been working for years to implement the standards.

The DLS wrote that pushing back the implementation of Common Core standards, which Reilly's bill would allow counties to do, would jeopardize federal Race to the Top grant money.

Delaying evaluations could jeopardize at least $37.9 million of the state's $250 million in Race to the Top money, the DLS says.

It's unclear when the committee will vote on Reilly's bills.

Dels. Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore County, and Ron George, R-Arnold, will be pushing legislation similar to Reilly's at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee heard

Three bills from Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena, including two that were heard and never got votes in the Senate committee in previous years.

Senate Bill 635 would move the selection of Anne Arundel County school board members from an appointed model to an elected one. Senate Bill 636, would put a question on the ballots of county voters in 2014 to determine voters' views on changing the method of selecting board members.

The one bill Simonaire showed to the committee Wednesday that hasn't been killed in previous years was House Bill 637. It would prohibit a member of the county board from running for municipal, county or state office until two years have passed since the end of that person's appointed term on the school board.

The committee also heard Senate Bill 747 by Sen. John Astle, D-Annapolis, which has already been approved by the county's House and Senate delegations.

It would prohibit the county's Board of Education from compensating the superintendent of schools for sick leave benefits earned while employed by any other board of education or school system.

It's unclear when or if any of the bills will be voted on by the committee.