Special to SEGAZINE
The Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 167 today by a vote of 34-16. Sponsored by Sen. William Ligon (R – Brunswick), this legislation provides an approach for withdrawing from the national education standards known as “Common Core” and specifies new protections for student privacy.
“Passage of this bill today represents the hard work of many people over the course of two years. This bill is the first major piece of legislation that has passed anywhere in the nation that has allowed the voice of the people to clearly say that national standards are unacceptable,” stated Sen. Ligon.
“This bill draws the line in the sand that Georgia will no longer be bound by national standards or the testing of national standards or be obligated to special interests. The people of Georgia, through this legislation, finally can begin to reclaim their educational sovereignty over what their children are taught in public schools. Georgia citizens should never again be shut out of the process as they were when the Common Core was ushered into this state.”
“I want to thank the many citizens around the state and people in leadership who have been willing to come to the table and work with me on this legislation. There is quite a long list of people, but I personally am indebted to my friend, Sen. Lindsey Tippins, the Senate Education Chairman, who has stood with me the entire way. I appreciate Governor Nathan Deal and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, along with their staff, who have reached out to me and were willing to offer assistance with the bill. I also appreciate House leadership working on the bill in advance and look forward to it being passed in the House of Representatives.”
SB 167 helps returns control to Georgia’s citizens by creating an open and transparent public process for the adoption of content standards. The process will include a 90 -day open comment period and public debate in each of the congressional districts throughout the state. In addition, an 18-member Curriculum Content Standards Advisory Council, composed of parents, university professors, K-12 teachers, and other citizens along with additional working subcommittees of K-12 teachers, curriculum specialists, and other knowledgeable citizens, will review public input and make recommendations on the standards to the State School Board. The effort will begin with math standards, so that those standards are completed in one year’s time.
The legislation gives school systems local control through the option of utilizing the previous Georgia Performance Standards as the process of revising math and English language arts standards occurs over the next two years. Even after the revised standards are completed, the legislation offers more flexibility for local districts to sequence, expand, and enrich the standards in ways that better suit the educational needs of their students and local communities.
In addition, SB 167 requires all statewide tests and assessments to be solely controlled by the State of Georgia, requires the Department of Education to inform the Georgia General Assembly of the long-term effects of any educational grant, and prohibits officials from relinquishing constitutional authority over standards and testing to third parties.
SB 167 also enforces higher student privacy controls by outlining limited categories of data that can be collected and disclosed without parental consent and prohibits the use of student records for commercial purposes. State agencies, local school districts, and educational institutions must disclose the nature of information collected and also provide parental access to these records. Any funds used for building or maintaining data systems for student records may not be used beyond students’ K–12 and college enrollment years.
“Though I recognize that this is a major milestone today made possible through the efforts of many grassroots activists around the state and through the prayers of many people, the effort has really just begun,” added Sen. Ligon. “If this bill passes the House and is signed by the Governor, parents and citizens will have to build on this foundation. They will need to stay engaged in the effort to not only revise Georgia’s content standards in English and math, but also to ensure that their local school districts stop all Common Core instruction and return to curricula aligned to the superior Georgia Performance Standards while the statewide revision of standards takes place. This is a long-term effort, and we must stay the course.”
Senate Bill 167 will now transfer to the House of Representatives for consideration.