10/15/2012 03:00 pm ET

Michigan School Standards Under Fire From Republican Legislators

Curriculum standards that were unanimously approved by Michigan's Board of Education in 2010 are catching flak from some state Republicans, who are pushing legislation to have them thrown out.

The Common Core State Standards are a set of guidelines designed to help districts teach grades K-12 in a consistent manner that prepares students for college and competition in the global economy. English and language arts standards, for example, emphasize writing logical arguments, conducting research and analysis and and writing explanatory texts. Math guidelines call on high school students to practice applying mathematical thinking to real world situations.

The standards are part of an initiative backed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. They've already been adopted in more than 40 states.

But State Reps. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills), Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth) and Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) introduced House Bill 5894 in September to prohibit the State Board of Education from implementing the standards and to require the body to rescind its 2010 resolution adopting them. McMillin is concerned about the standards diminishing local control of education.

"If you have national standards, you're going to end up testing to the standards. You end up with a national curriculum," he told the Detroit Free Press.

And while McMillin, Heise and Shirkey cite their concerns about ceding local control, they've cast their votes for a law that limits local control for districts experiencing financial difficulties. All three voted for Public Act 4 of 2011, which gave the governor the ability to appoint emergency managers to run fiscally-challenged school districts and municipalities. That law has been temporarily suspended due to a referendum scheduled to appear on the state ballot in November.

Negative sentiment about the standards among Republicans also bumped state board member Nancy Danhof, (R-East Lansing) off the ballot at the party's state convention, the Free Press reports. Two conservatives who used her support for the guidelines to marginalize her are now vying for the two open board seats on the November ballot.

The Board of Education's State Superintendent, Mike Flanagan, addressed concerns about the erosion of local control when they were adopted in 2010.

"The Common Core Standards are built on the best state standards," he said in a release at the time. "These standards provide the content; they aren't telling states or school districts how to teach these content standards."



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