Why is Arizona trying to repeal Common Core?

Arizona's board of education voted to allow changes to Common Core as part of the state's broader push to revitalize education by making it less standardized. 

Matt York/AP
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas speaks, Thursday, Oct 1, 2015, in Phoneix. Douglas rolled out her plan to fix the state's struggling K-12 school system and it includes eliminating the state's Common Core standards, a move already blocked by the Board of Education.

Although they come from opposing sides of the political spectrum, a vote against Common Core in Arizona and an announcement about standardized tests by the president may represent moves in the same direction – toward an approach to education that is less standardized, and more individualized. 

Arizona took a small step away from Common Core when the state's Board of Education voted Monday to remove the copyright on the Common Core the state adopted in 2010, opening the door to allow Arizona to change those standards, the Arizona Republic reported. The vote does not itself make any direct changes to the standards.

The move was "political" and "a reckless attempt at the wrong point in time," said Board of Education President Greg Miller, who supports Common Core. The standards' opponents, however, are labeling it "a great victory for the people of Arizona," according to the newspaper. These include Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican.

"Any action that moves us closer to repealing Common Core is a positive," said Mr. Ducey's spokesman Daniel Scarpinato. "The governor has made it clear that it’s time to replace Common Core with Arizona standards and wants to see the board proceed with its process."

This was a second hit for standardized educational frameworks in a week. President Obama announced Saturday his plans to reduce the amount of standardized testing in schools, even proposing a cap for the amount of time schools spend on such tests. 

Tests should be limited to 2 percent of classroom time, the president said as he explained that efforts to monitor and improve education with mandated tests have gone too far, well intended as they may have been. The president acknowledged his own contribution to testing requirements for schools, although the trend toward one-size-fits-all education certainly began before his presidency, The New York Times reported. 

Some parents have indicated their displeasure with increasing national tests by keeping children home when schools administer tests, and some schools are also so irritated with the federal standards that they do little to dissuade them, The Christian Science Monitor reported in April. 

Arizona State Superintendent Diane Douglas has worked to reduce state-mandated tests, and she campaigned on a platform to repeal Common Core last year, saying Arizona had sat at the bottom of the list for education for too long, the Yuma Sun reported. Repealing Common Core also made a list of policy ideas Ms. Douglas announced in early October after she reviewed the state's schools, including everything from better diversity curriculum to making school lunches longer. 

The board's vote is a "first step" toward altering Common Core, but will not have any immediate impact, Charles Tack, a spokesman for Douglas said.

"I think that fully repealing standards and saying we instantly have to go back to an old set of standards would've caused a lot more upheaval to the system than anyone wanted to see," Mr. Tack said, according to the Arizona Republic. "But again, I think this sends a clear message and hopefully, this will be the first step in getting standards back in the hands of Arizona."

Arizona's governor has called for a year-long review of all the state's standards, emphasizing a decrease in blanket solutions to education.

"I think our parents are going to be very delighted to see that the education of their children is back under their control," Ms. Douglas told the Arizona Republic. "We’ll make the federal government very happy, because our standards will be even higher now."

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