Maine Lawmakers Replace Common Core Repeal with ‘Review Process’

Published February 22, 2016

A bill intended to remove Common Core curriculum standards from Maine government-operated public schools has been amended, removing provisions that would have established a review process to make school curriculum standardization more transparent and responsive to community feedback.

The original bill, introduced by state Rep. William Tuell (R-East Machais), was rejected by the Maine House of Representatives’ Education Committee and replaced with a bill that would create a new standards review protocol, which would include new ways for parents to give feedback and trigger government curriculum reviews.

Good Points Cited

Tuell says although the new bill leaves Common Core in place, it forces the state Department of Education to be more accountable and responsive to parents.

“The bill no longer repeals Common Core,” Tuell said. “It will better serve Maine’s educational needs by involving more people in the standards-setting process. One of the big knocks on Common Core is that parents feel left out of the process. Hopefully, the new process the Education Committee has agreed upon will give folks more say, more input, and more opportunities to make real changes to what many see as an inflexible system.” 

‘No Guarantee’ of Change

Heidi Sampson, executive director and co-founder of No Common Core Maine, says the legislators let down the state’s parents and students.

“With the replacing of the bill, the Education Committee unanimously passed an amendment to the bill,” Sampson said. “It was more than an amendment. It was a total replacement. ‘Not starting from scratch’ is code language for ‘keeping everything as is, but we’ll make you feel good by allowing you to exercise your right to voice your concerns.’ There is no guarantee the voice of the public will be acted upon.”

‘Edu-Speak’ Barrier

Sampson says the Maine Department of Education has a history of unaccountability and opaqueness, and the new bill will not change that.

“The track record of the review process with the Department of Education is less than stellar,” Sampson said. “The average person will not know how to comment on specific Common Core standards, and the bureaucrats know this. These standards are written in a very ‘edu-speak’ manner, making them not just developmentally inappropriate, but also confusing to interpret.”

‘Entrenched’ Interests

Sampson says the new “review process” is merely a cosmetic change to a corrupted educational system.

“The entire process will be intimately managed and organized by deeply entrenched bureaucrats in the Department of Education, who have no intention of removing the current standards,” Sampson said. “To have them be the final gatekeepers is no different than asking the fox to guard the henhouse.”

Andy Torbett ([email protected]) writes from Atkinson, Maine.