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McMillin Bill Would Let Michigan Schools Opt Out of Common Curriculum

But Rochester's school leader says the "Common Core" standards are needed to create equal opportunity across the country.

Should public schools in Michigan be required to follow a common core curriculum?

That's the question behind legislation offered up by a Rochester Hills lawmaker this week. House Bill 4276, introduced by Republican Tom McMillin, would remove the state's participation in the Common Core Standards Initiative, a guideline of goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills should be taught in public schools across the country.

The bill introduced this week mimics a similar one introduced in the fall; that bill did not make it to the House floor. 

Proponents for the Common Core have said the standards are needed to make goals consistent across the board and to eliminate inconsistencies from state to state, which could hinder students when they get to college.

McMillin describes the Common Core as a federal attempt to take decision-making abilities from state and local school officials. 

"This is an obvious overreach by the federal government into our classrooms and we should join the other states that have opted out of the initiative. The federal government should not dictate what is taught in every classroom in the nation, especially in Michigan," said McMillin, who represents Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township.

According to information published at CoreStandards.org, which outlines the Common Core, the federal government does not oversee the program - the states do. 

But McMillin argues that the federal government has failed to come up with a plan or a funding mechanism for schools to implement many of the demands of Common Core.  Lawmakers in other states - Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia - have already challenged the Common Core standards, according to a news release sent by McMillin's office. 

Local school leaders respond

Tresa Zumsteg, the interim superintendent for Rochester Community Schools, said she has not seen this particular bill, but that the district is supportive of the Common Core.

"The Common Core, as I understand it, was developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State Officials to provide equality of opportunity for students across the country," Zumsteg said.

Some Michigan education activists have said the Common Core is a power grab by federal officials.

"If we do not stop the implementation of Common Core in Michigan and its related testing, when parents do not like what is taught to their child, they will have to go to Washington or some out- of- state consortium to get any changes," stated Deborah DeBacker of Troy, a mother of three and community activist. "At a time when our schools are short on funds, this Common Core implementation of new books, teacher training, and expensive upgrades to our schools electronic infrastructure will cost in the millions of dollars with no guarantee, seeing that none of it has been field tested."

Vickie Markavitch, Superintendent of Oakland Schools, said schools need the globally competitive content standards that the Common Core provides.

"Having these standards help with continuity of education for children who change school districts and allow us to use resources more efficiently and effectively across states," Markavitch said this week. "It is also incredibly important that local school districts are able to decide how the content is taught in their districts and how to blend the Common Core standards with locally selected curriculum."

McMillin's bill now goes to the House Education Committee for consideration.

McMillin will hold office hours from 4 to 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25 at the Rochester Hills City Hall.

Cheryl Junker February 23, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Thanks Marie....no wonder I was befuddled by this. Didn't Jeb profit from 'No Child Left Behind' as well?
Cheryl Junker February 23, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Thank you Marie, this bait and switch methodology seems to be working for 'everyone' except our citizens. Didn't Jeb profit from 'No Child Left Behind' as well?
Rochelle Kent's February 24, 2013 at 01:19 AM
I am sending my child to a private school, those words were recently spoken to me... My principal is into it. So I have been researching it? I ask you Diane? What is your agenda? Just because a teacher thinks its good does not make it good. We need to research where this coming from, who is behind it. Quit just going on blindly like sheep and wake up!!! Research and educate yourself. This is not about making a better education system.. Look into it!!! And stop it! Wake up! Please everybody wake up!! You must put some time aside and let your gut and common sense lead you to the truth... It's out there... Find it!!
Dorothy February 24, 2013 at 07:08 PM
We have the Mackinac Center and Koch brothers giving McMillin his marching orders. Add in corporatists like Gates and Jobs and we have every non-academic on the planet telling our schools what to do. Instead of confidentially surveying the teachers on how we can help Rochester Schools, we keep listening to Teapots, politicians, and the money changers. McMillin is an embarassment to this community and the state of Michigan, and he's not done yet. He'll keep destroying everything he can until we pry that job from his cold dead hands. Imagine - arming teachers and allowing guns in school. What a crack pot.
Mike Reno February 25, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Local control of these schools has not worked very well. The movement to "intervene" is driven by the general failure of locals to produce impressive results. Whether it's common core, Oxford, Students First... these are all rescue missions. If the locals did their job, there would be no need and no support for reform efforts. Michigan's reformed graduation requirements are a great example. Michigan students are undeniably better educated now then they were 10 years ago, when grad requirements were weak. Keep in mind that common core is a minimum.
Kristen Famiano February 25, 2013 at 02:31 AM
I agree 100%.
Kristen Famiano February 25, 2013 at 02:33 AM
Well said, Bonnie! Tom McMillin is voice for a VERY SMALL minority in Rochester. That's not to say that others don't share some viewpoints, but he does not care about representing Rochester as a whole.
Kristen Famiano February 25, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Mike....I agree with what you said about the MMC in general....but we have failed our students who have career goals related to CTE. As a counselor, I have also dealt with many more students with anxiety issues over school than ever before. If we raise standards, we have to teach kids how to deal with stress. Grade inflation isn't the answer. What happened to treating kids like human beings and making sure they knew we cared about them? Now...it's all about data and rigor. Don't get me wrong...I see a well needed place for that. We just can't forget we're working with kids and not products. They are human beings, and inspiration, motivation, and determination are just a few examples of soft skills teachers and counselors can model.
Mike Reno February 25, 2013 at 05:43 AM
I don't know that these things are mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they all go hand-in-hand. We need a robust product, not only rigor, but relevance. And support. And interesting. And fun. Quite frankly, why aren't schools doing it? (rhetorical question, by the way. I'm sure the usual suspects here are going to chime in about funding, other "mandates"' yadda, yadda.) My point is that counseling... Both emotional and directional... are sorely lacking in public schools everywhere, and it is a real problem that school leaders have not identified it and addressed it. And it is just one more example of why people feel the need to intervene.
Dorothy February 25, 2013 at 10:26 AM
Mike we were not born in a turnip patch. There are no "rescue" missions. It is all a tired politcal tactic to demonize before they privatize. You are a huge McM supporter despite his radical politics, whick leaves youu zero cedibility. You've supported every school agenda item out of this right wing group of ideologs.
Mike Reno February 25, 2013 at 02:53 PM
I understand, Dorothy. Anyone who disagrees with you is radical, and has no credibility. Thanks for the reminder. And if you read what I wrote, you'll see I disagree with Tom on this issue.
Mike Reno February 25, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Maybe many of us do not have faith in the "local educational leaders", and some of us appreciate what Tom is doing with respect to Education (and he was, incidentally, elected multiple times by a majority of voters in Rochester). I don't entirely agree with Tom on the issue of common core. But his bill is designed to provide freedom to schools. While I don't believe schools have earned the right to be left unsupervised, I think you would disagree, so why on earth would you object to Tom's proposal?
Mike Reno February 25, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Small minority... as in the majority of the voters?
Sue Burstein February 26, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Fortunately, Tom is way smarter than you are, and he is making decisions. Hate to think of you doing that.
Sue Burstein February 26, 2013 at 03:18 AM
Here is a reassuring comment by a superintendent: Tresa Zumsteg, the interim superintendent for Rochester Community Schools, said she has not seen this particular bill, but that the district is supportive of the Common Core. "The Common Core, as I understand it, was developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State Officials to provide equality of opportunity for students across the country," Zumsteg said. As she "understands" it? Before you are in favor or against something, I would hope, as the head of a district you WOULD UNDERSTAND it. Otherwise, you should not say anything. Common Core is nothing more than federal usurption of local control of education - including state control. They have BOUGHT this state and its governor with promises of money and no more No Child Left Behind. It seems pretty foolish to me to let the federal government dictate in total what is going to be taught in the classroom. It also seems foolish to me to have identical curriculums across this entire country. Do we lower the standards of better schools, which is what will inevitably happen? Or do we work to help those districts/states raise their standards, which is very unlikely to happen. Teaching to the middle, and never having to strive to be superior is a sad statement for this country. One has to wonder why 14 of the state that have signed on to CC are already starting to backtrack. Hopefully, they have finally woken up to the truth.
Sue Burstein February 26, 2013 at 03:23 AM
Additionally, do not confuse the National Governor's Association with Governors. Governors actually have no control over this group. It is meaningless. Then ask...who is going to make money off of CC? The list is interesting, starting with the National Governor's Assn., which has copyrighted much of the curriculum. Bill Gates is another name that comes to mind. And the National Chamber of Commerce has endorsed it...wonder why? Could it be a huge grant/donation received from one of the groups listed above? This is not about better education. This is not about our kids. This is all about greed. I fail to understand why parents and teachers are not up in arms about National Common Core. And school boards too! If you truly understand its implications, then you will understand that National Common Core ends your decision making involvement in your children's education, what they are taught, and how it is taught. All nicely packaged and wrapped so you do not have to make any decisions. And those who should care most, have been uncomfortably silent.
Sue Burstein February 26, 2013 at 03:27 AM
According to information published at CoreStandards.org, which outlines the Common Core, the federal government does not oversee the program - the states do. HAHAHA...let's see...if you like your insurance you can keep it. Your medical premiums will not go up. No new taxes for the middle class. So, because the government says so, we should believe it. Remember the the words that should be most feared: I am from the federal government and I am here to help.
Deb DeBacker February 26, 2013 at 03:40 AM
So you dont think the feds are behind this? Then why did President Obama say this in his 2013 State of the Union "Four years ago we started Race to the Top, a compeition that convinced almost every state to develop smarter curriculum and higher standards....." Obviously his threats of eliminating state's Title 1 money were the unseen hand, the Federal Dept of Ed who funded the accompanying federal testing that is part of Common Core another intrusion. For those of you who want to find the truth www.truthinamericaneducation.com This is Gates money, no Koch Brothers here.
A Nobel February 26, 2013 at 03:44 AM
So much of the focus here is on schools rather than kids' learning. I'd love to see solid evidence that any testing has ever gotten a student to reading or math competency. The world knowing "about" MI's kids is absolutely no substitute for their teachers knowing them. Equal opportunity is no substitute for individualized, parent and teacher-driven learning. I'm with Tom McMillin: let the feds butt out.
Deb DeBacker February 26, 2013 at 03:45 AM
Common Core requires nothing above Algebra 2 and Trig.
Deb DeBacker February 26, 2013 at 03:50 AM
Common Core is being pushed with Gates Foundation money, Microsoft, and Pearson stand to make billions off of new books, teacher training, and the massive software, bandwidth, and hardware needed for adaptive testing. Big countries like Canada and Australia have no national standards, and Belgium , a continued leader in education has none either. Competition is gone with national content standards, which is what Common Core is. And talk about teaching to the test--SMARTER federal testing will include formative tests given perhaps monthly. Teachers will have no say in what they teach.
Anne Phelps February 26, 2013 at 03:56 AM
I have to disagree with you on that. Rep. McMillin is one of the best legislators Michigan has, and we only wish he wasn't term-limited, because he is one of the few who believe in freedom and liberty, not the impositions and overreach of government, and by control freaks who wish to impose their values on everyone else. We wish there were MORE great men like the honorable Tom McMillin. He's doing the right thing here, and thousands in my groups will support him, and attempts to maintain our Constitutional rights.
Kristen Famiano February 26, 2013 at 05:16 AM
Ha! Good point, Mike! I guess he was elected by the majority:-) I have made no secret of the fact that I disagree with almost everything McMillin supports. I have lived in Rochester for about 10 years...not as long as many but long enough to have sense about the community. I feel like the majority of people support the local schools. I can also see where his views are relevant to some...but I do think that the majority of families support and are proud of our educational leaders. I do tend to see the world with rose colored glasses sometimes though:-)
Mike Reno February 26, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Algebra II is not high enough? I'm not being snarky... I respect the depth of your knowledge on this subject and I'm curious how much higher in math do you think kids should go... I truly believe that math is the gateway to higher order thinking... but at some point trying to get 100% of our kinds through pre-calc or higher would bring diminishing returns. Having said that... I'm not aware of Common Core being a "cap"... couldn't a district adopt higher standards if they felt it was appropriate? Deb, you've been fighting this fight much longer than me. Any further attention I devote to this is going to be primarily geared towards CHOICE. Let people OPT OUT of the public school monopoly and take their education dollars elsewhere. (I know some have an issue with that as well... worried that private schools that receive tax dollars will be educationally corrupted, same as our public schools...) Common Core has it's own set of philosophical issues, federal overreach among the biggest. And the curriculum certainly has it's share of warts. But both of those directions -- warts and all -- seem preferable to the mess we have now. I get the whole "local control" thing... but these schools have not earned the right to work unsupervised.
Sue Burstein February 26, 2013 at 03:40 PM
IB is not what you think it is. It is a program that is an offshoot of UNESCO that is wholly about creating global citizens first. It in many ways demonizes our American way of life, makes the U.S. the evil country, and focuses on specific religions, like Islam in lieu of mainstream America. While I have no problem with our children being well rounded, and learning about international subjects, there is a problem when that is done at the expense of helping to educate solid Americans. You should do some studying about the people who started IB, what their socialist thought process was and how it is perpetuated today. You should understand that all IB tests are scored by people outside of the U.S. You should understand that the textbooks are highly skewed. In fact, Farmington Public Schools just dumped 5 or 6 of the IB textbooks as they were found by an outside agency to be highly anti-Semetic or anti-Israel. Could that be because the King Faisal Foundation from Saudi Arabia is a major funder of the IB program? C'mon people, wake up....pay attention, read both the pros and cons of programs before you jump in and want something.
Sue Burstein February 26, 2013 at 03:44 PM
To the poster who is jealous of her Finnish friends. This has been debunked over and over as that seems to be the new line from those in favor of common core...just look at Findland. Well Findland has a fairly homogeneous population of about 22 million people. Let's compare that to the U.S. with over 300+ million people of a diversity of backgrounds. What is successful in Findland does not translate here. Read the comment below on similar countries that have NO common core doing far better than the U.S. Let's try comparing apples to apples.
Joshua Raymond February 26, 2013 at 04:17 PM
I don't believe that trigonometry and algebra 2 are appropriate for a significant portion of our student population. Even in the STEM fields I know many people who have never used these for their jobs. Outside of STEM, I doubt they are used at all. I am a huge proponent of math, but I believe it should be tailored to the individual's needs. Many students will find trigonometry and algebra 2 incredibly frustrating and disassociate from math. I believe it would be preferable to have courses aimed at math used in business, skilled trades, or everyday life with real world examples that could engage students and let them view math as a helpful tool instead of an arcane area that few understand. If Common Core doesn't allow for the variation in abilities and interests, this needs to be addressed.
Marie T March 07, 2013 at 10:18 PM
@Deb DeBacker--sorry the reply is up here to your comment below. I was not sure how to reply to your comment so it fell below your remarks. I do think that ALEC and a group called the American Principles Project have a lot to do the Common Core including the ones you mentioned. They are against it. Do I think the Federal Government is behind this? Yes and no. I believe that Corporate interests are behind this movement of Common Core--on both sides of the aisle. My problem with blaming the Feds. is that the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) began way before Obama took office, so the current--"it is Obama's fault" doesn't add up.
felicia March 17, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Based on what I have found I am not willing to participate, my child will not be allowed in the classes. My concern as a parent is what they are doing and asking. On the sample questions from the NEAP I found it is not a math or reading test at all. The first few questions are math or reading but as you progress the test changes to a survey. Questions like, page 18 "How many movies did you see last month on television and in the movie theaters", page 19 "Are you Hispanic or Latino", page 20 "How many books are in your home", page 21 "Write the zip code of your home address in the boxes" page 25 "Did you answer all of the math questions"... I would ask, what math questions? Several questions not at all related to math or reading in regard to what they have learned. Personal information is being gathered. It is none of the state or federal governments business. I am for removing this from our schools. NO evidence that it works, my child is not going to be experimented on when it comes to education. Passed without congress at the federal level, that smells to me. Privacy laws have been changed as well to ensure that they can ask these personal questions. Stinks to high heaven.
Sue Burstein March 18, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Felicia, good for you, but here's the rub. IF CC becomes the standard, then inevitably every college will match their entrance standards to what is being taught across the country. So, then, how does your local parochial or private school teach something different? Face it, they too will align with Common Core, because they need to guarantee that their students have the same low level knowledge to get into those same schools. In the long run, no one will be exempt, and once again, I will reiterate, the only losers are our children. There is no creativity, no individualism, no focus on the child in these curriculums. What could the government do better than to educate on a level playing field, and IMHO that is a below sea level field. However, this dumming down of the populous has been going on for years. All they are doing here is codifiying it for the whole country.

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