“Common Core,” the national school standards originally the idea of the National Governors Association, have suddenly and surprisingly become a hot topic in the Alabama Legislature.

Dale Marsh (R-Anniston), president pro tem of the Alabama Senate and one of the most influential legislators in Montgomery, introduced a bill last week to remove Alabama from the approximately 40 states that utilize Common Core.

It caught legislators and top school officials by surprise. But it passed the Senate after short debate and can be considered by the House when the Legislature returns from spring break next week.

What is Common Core?

The Governor’s Association approved the curriculum in 2008 as an effort to have students on the same page, so to speak, with their studies. The idea was that if 4th-graders in New York and California were, for instance, studying fractions first semester, then fourth-graders in Alabama and Arizona should be doing the same. That way, if a student moved to a different state, there would be minimum disruption.

It is particularly important in districts like Phenix City, Russell County and even Lee County, where teachers deal with an influx of students throughout the school year whose parents are stationed at or work at Fort Benning, having transferred here during the school year.

So why the controversy? Though an initiative of the Governor’s conference, it was embraced by the Obama Administration and some people just do not like anything associated with former President Barack Obama. Others lament a lack of “local control” with Common Core. 

School officials say it costs millions of dollars and takes years to change the course of study. For instance, new textbooks must be bought and validated and teachers trained in the new course.

One of the most controversial provisions of Marsh’s legislation would take final say on future course of study changes from the State Board of Education and place them in the hands of the Legislature. The measure would require changes to be approved according to terms of the Legislative Procedures Act, a somewhat cumbersome process that takes months or years.

Marsh has promised to meet with school officials this week, while the Legislature is on spring break, to try to work out differences.

NCAA’s revenge?

Someone said that the NCAA obviously still has it in for Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl. The evidence is Auburn’s tough placement in the NCAA tournament.

Auburn got a great draw in the SEC tournament, not having to face Kentucky or Tennessee until the finals, but a terrible one in the “Big Dance” — starting with a mid-major, New Mexico State, a basketball school on a 19-game winning streak. After eking out a victory in that contest, Auburn next had to take on Kansas, one of the “blue bloods” of college basketball.

A 20-point victory in that contest means that Auburn gets to play North Carolina, one of the top three or four programs in the country, in the Sweet Sixteen.

If Auburn should find a way to beat Carolina Friday, then down the road likely standing in the way — depending upon how Kentucky fares this weekend — of a trip to the Final Four will be none other than another of those top tier teams in the Wildcats.

Whew! This team will earn what it gets!

Retired Auburn attorney Don Eddins is publisher of The Auburn Villager newspaper and the online publication, auburnvillager.com. Email him your comments about the newspaper to doneddins@auburnlaw.us

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