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.

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.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »