Of all the 50 states, Michigan has been hardest hit in terms of political maneuvering to dismantle the Common Core in their state. Passed June 15, 2010, things were calm until the big debate over the new standards broke in 2013. Since then, it’s been nothing but political bickering that puts the educators and students in the center with no power of their own to decide what works for them.
The very first incident to get in the way of Core implementation happened in 2013. During discussions of the state budget, opponents of the new standards slipped in a stipulation that would end up barring spending on the Core. Not even Governor Rick Snyder had the power to remove such a detrimental rule from the $49.5 million bill. This resulted in a period of months where implementation was stalled, leaving schools in a frustrating limbo where they had to halt everything all while wondering if they were going to have to take away certain things because of the budget squeeze. Then, in October 2013, after months of hearings, funding finally came back to the schools.
In 2014, opponents performed yet another debilitating maneuver by shutting down the statewide exam planned to be given to students in grades 3 through 8. They even went as far as to bar that specific test entirely. Because of this, Michigan was left with no time to create a substitute since the process generally takes about three years. However, they were allowed a loophole where they could still administer the test so long as it was under a different name.
While frustrating, the ruling led to a sad situation for students, one that will be forcing them to take three completely different exams in three years. Apart from the confusion, this continual test changing only leads to the impossibility of accurately tracking students’ progress in each grade level, preventing both the state’s responsibility to adhere to the federal government’s requirement that all states are responsible for their students’ progress as well as grading teachers based on how well their students perform.
A Blame Game
As the teachers struggle to make do with the constantly shifting educational landscape, the politicians that instigated the trouble for the students refuse to take responsibility. Republicans argue that this wouldn’t have happened if the Board of Education had been more vocal in their adoption of the Core back in 2010. Democrats fire back that if the Republicans would stop ruining the implementation, the kids could finally reap the benefits. As for the educators, the oldest simply try their best to ignore it, explaining that there’s always a new curriculum or new standards. In these times, it’s best just to stay focused on what matters most—the students.