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Ducey urges Board of Education to review Arizona Common Core standards

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Gov. Doug Ducey urged the State Board of Education on Monday to review Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards, saying the standards should be the state’s and not dictated by Washington.

“Therefore, I’m calling on this board to review the English Language Arts and Mathematics standards in their entirety to ensure that our children are well-served by the standards you develop,” Ducey said while presenting his education agenda to the board.

The presentation followed the governor’s appointment of five new members to the board last week, including Gilbert Town Council member Jared Taylor, a Common Core opponent.

“We want to get Washington, D.C., out of the state education process and make sure these are our own standards and that they are done in the light of day and that parents are involved in how we decide on that,” Ducey said in an interview following the meeting. “So that’s going to be our direction going forward.”

The standards have been a contentious topic in Arizona, with new Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas running on an anti-Common Core platform and some Republican lawmakers opposed to Common Core. Still alive at the Legislature are bills that would prohibit the standards in Arizona and eliminate the new AzMERIT standardized test.

Ducey said his concerns about the Common Core can be addressed without a law.

“I don’t think that legislation is necessary because we’re going to fix what’s wrong with these standards,” he said.

Ducey said that some standards may not change in the review process, using reading and knowing multiplication facts by the end of the third grade as examples of standards that might be kept.

“Where we have a standard and it fits and it’s necessary – that’s something that we want to embrace,” he said.

Pearl Chang Esau, president and chief executive officer of Expect More Arizona, an education advocacy group, said the standards have had a positive impact on student learning.

“We appreciate the approach to review them and not throw them out and start all over again,” she said following Ducey’s presentation.

“Starting all over again would be an incredible waste of taxpayer dollars, but more importantly it would impede the student growth in academics that we’ve seen and there’s just no reason to do that,” she added.

Ducey affirmed his position against the Common Core in his presentation.

“As you know, I am against Common Core, and I think the federal government has vastly overplayed its hand in the way it has involved itself in this issue,” he said.