Common Core Battle Brewing Among Arizona Republicans

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 10:24 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Arizona Republicans are arguing among themselves over efforts to eliminate Common Core education policies, with opponents saying Gov. Jan Brewer's decision to rename the program did nothing to change its standards.

The policy is now named "Arizona's College and Career Ready Standards," Breitbart.com reports, and the fight against the curriculum parents and tea party groups have opposed all along is now in the Arizona State Board of Education, where two appointees who voted in favor of Common Core are about to lose their seats.

Brewer renominated board Vice President Greg Miller and Diane Ortiz-Parsons one year ago this week, The Arizona Republic reports,  but the nominations expire after one year and have stalled in the state Senate Education Committee.

The committee's chairwoman, Kimberly Yee, said that the issue is about the pair's attendance records, but board member and former state schools Superintendent Jaime Molera blames the delay on politics.

"Kimberly Yee and [Senate President] Andy Biggs are telling their tea party followers that they are going to get rid of Common Core by damaging the State Board of Education," Molera told The Republic on Tuesday.

Miller has been a board member since 2010, while Parsons-Ortiz has served since 2009. According to Breitbart, she has missed four meetings between 2009 and 2014.

Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilde said Brewer does not intend to nominate anyone else to the spots, but Yee wants replacements.

"If there are other nominees who are as qualified to be members of that board and who will serve out the responsibilities of the appointment, including showing up for meetings, then we welcome those nominees," Yee said. "We have asked the Governor's Office to provide ... some new, fresh faces."

Meanwhile, earlier in March, the state Senate voted 17-12 to reject House Bill 1395 to allow public schools to opt out of the Common Core standards and choose their own, a move Brewer is threatening to veto.

Republican Sen. Al Melvin, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor and who created the legislation to ban Common Core, calls the curriculum a "federal dictate," reports Capitol Media Services in Arizona.

The legislation prohibits the state board from doing anything more to implement Common Core standards, and says schools that have adopted them will be required to drop them.

When Melvin was pressed during floor debate to say which Common Core standards he did not like, provided no answer but said he was reflecting constituents' demands to eliminate Common Core.

"We can do a better job at the state level than the federal government dictating standards," Melvin said.

Democratic state Sen. Steve Gallardo of Phoenix said Melvin is wrong in calling the standards federal mandates, because they were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

"Republican and Democratic governors coming together to look at how we are going to advance our education system throughout our entire country," Gallardo said.

Brewer, meanwhile, is warning lawmakers that they need to back off or face a veto on the bill.

"Gov. Brewer would have serious concerns with any legislation that endorses mediocrity by lowering the expectations for Arizona students," gubernatorial press aide Andrew Wilder said.

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