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CNN, “Jeb Bush Stands Firm on Immigration, Common Core in Fox News Interview”: In an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, former Gov. Jeb Bush reiterated his support for Common Core State Standards, saying his position is based on a need for more rigorous education standards that are state-driven and free of federal involvement. “I respect people having a view, but the simple fact is that we need higher standards. They need to be state-driven. The federal government should play no role in this, either in the creation of standards, content or curriculum,” Gov. Bush said. “You look at our country compared to countries who are successful in reforming their education, we’ve been dumbing things down…If we don’t have high standards and assess them faithfully, we get what we have today, which is about a third of our kids being college or career ready…I’m going to tell people what I think, which is that high standards are better than low standards. And I’m going to show them the record in Florida where we led the nation in terms of learning gains.”

What It Means: Gov. Bush emphasizes rigorous academic expectations and strong systems of accountability are necessary to improve student outcomes. As Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli wrote recently, “Standards matter if for no other reason than they provide fuel and focus to efforts to improve curriculum and instruction.” By setting high learning goals for all students and holding schools accountable to them, Common Core will ensure more students graduate high school fully prepared for college or a career. Gov. Bush’s steadfast support for high standards will position him well with voters; polling regularly finds the public supports high, comparable education standards and increased accountability, regardless of what label is attached.

Associated Press, “Gov. Hassan Vetoes Anti-Common Core Bill”: Late Monday, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan blocked legislation that would have exempted districts from adopting education standards, including Common Core, saying the law already allows districts to reject standards. In fact, Manchester’s school board chose to develop its own standards. Gov. Hassan pointed to a letter from the Business and Industry Association, and said the standards will help prepare students for a “21st-century workforce.” “As this bill has no practical impact, its purpose appears to be that of sending a message, and it is the wrong message,” Gov. Hassan said. “New Hampshire must be clear that it is committed to developing a 21-century workforce and citizenry, that it welcomes innovation, and that it is modernizing its education system to reflect those values.” “SB 101 undermines New Hampshire’s commitment to higher education standards and sends a message that mediocrity is okay,” wrote Jim Roche, president of the Business and Industry Association.

What It Means: Gov. Hassan’s veto demonstrates that states’ commitment to high education standards and preparing students for college or a career transcends political party. Gov. Hassan made clear that education decisions should remain a state and district decision. In contrast to decision in states like South Carolina and Oklahoma, which were steeped in political influence, Gov. Hassan’s veto gives the state’s educators stability to continue to implement rigorous education standards that will ensure more students graduate fully prepared for college or a career.

Huntington Herald-Dispatch, “Cabell Teachers Show Common Core Support”: Teacher in West Virginia’s Cabell County voiced support for the Common Core during an education board hearing last week. The teachers, who were part of a textbook selection committee, defended the standards during the first “substantial conversation” about Common Core since the end of the regular session of the state legislature, the article reports. Jeff Smith, assistant superintendent of school improvement, said repealing the standards would create unnecessary challenges for teachers. “If [lawmakers] went in and tried to make changes and included teachers in it, we’re confident teachers would leave most of what’s there,” Smith said. “the one thing that’s been left out of this is the teachers getting their voice, because our teachers generally like the Next Generation content standards and like what’s there.” “”They’re very rich in foundational skills and that is an element we are missing, not only in Cabell County. We’re missing it in West Virginia as well as our nation,” added Brenda Parsons, a second-grade teacher. “”That’s what third grade needs, that’s what 12th grade needs. Students are graduating from high school and going to college, and they can’t read college textbooks because they don’t have foundational skills, and that begins in the primary level.”

What It Means: Cabell County teachers’ defense of the Common Core reflects educators’ broad support for the standards. A Scholastic study last fall found more than eight in 10 teachers who have worked closely with the Common Core support implementation, and more than two-thirds say they have seen an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills. In states that adopted the standards early, like Kentucky and Tennessee, students have made some of the biggest gains in college- and career-readiness scores and proficiency rates.


Correcting the Record:

Alexandria Town Talk“Common Core Critics Allege Conflicts, Seek Ethics Changes”: In Louisiana, debate over Common Core standards has grown increasingly personal, with critics raising conflict-of-interest against state education leaders and seeking new ethic restrictions against them. “Unable to so far to force an end to Louisiana’s use of Common Core, opponents of the multistate standards are targeting Superintendent of Education John White directly, asking lawmakers to enact tougher ethics limits for White and members of the state education board,” the article reports. White denies any improprieties, and the state ethics board cleared him after a complaint was filed. Legislation to put stricter restrictions on education leaders, which is backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, is scheduled for hearing today in the House Governmental Affairs Committee. “There’s no question in my mind that it’s all orchestrated,” said Chas Roemer, chairman of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. “This is political harassment.”

What It Means: Unable to successfully repeal the Common Core, opponents have increasingly turned to subversive tactics to undermine implementation. Legislation to ramp up ethics restrictions is Gov. Jindal’s latest political ploy to win favor with a small but vocal set of voters in his presidential ambitions. Such efforts put Louisiana students at a disadvantage and introduce uncertainty into classrooms. As experts like Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli have pointed out, one reason Common Core standards have been so resilient is that “it’s impossible to draft standards that prepare students for college and career readiness and that look nothing like Common Core.”



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Bangor Daily News“Testing Opt-Out, Common Core Pushback Hit Maine Legislature”: During a lengthy series of public hearings before the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, Common Core opponents urged lawmakers to eliminate new assessments, the standards or both. LD 695 would notify parents of their right to opt students out of state tests, require schools to offer an alternative “educational activity” for students who don’t take exams, and prevent the state education department from penalizing schools if students refuse to participate. “The federal government has the keys to Title I funding, and if that funding is compromised, the impact will be substantial in being able to provide services to our lowest achieving students,” said Bernadette Flynn, curriculum director at Sanford School Department.

Grad Nation“2015 Building a Grad Nation Report”: For the third year in a row, graduation rates in the U.S. have climbed, putting the country on track to reach a 90% on-time graduation rate by 2020, according to the 2015 Building a Grad Nation report. Last year, graduation rates hit a record high of 81.4%. The sixth annual report attributes the gains to efforts to raise graduation rates for groups that have traditionally struggled to earn a high school diploma, including low-income and minority student populations. The report’s policy recommendations include increasing use of consistent and comparable data and implementing more early-warning indicators.