According to a February 21, 2014 article in the Arizona Star, State Senator and AZ Governor hopeful Al Melvin (R-Tucson), member of the AZ Senate Education Committee voted this past Thursday “to bar Arizona from implementing the Common Core standards the state adopted four years ago.”
This vote is surprising for a number of reasons. First, Senator Melvin was an early champion of SB 1310, the original bill by which the state adopted the Common Core standards. While I have no problem with a senator changing his or her position, and in fact encourage the kind of reflection that might bring about such a change, it is somewhat surprising in this case since Senator Melvin was one of the most outspoken supporters of the original bill.
Second, Senator Melvin’s vote shows a kind of disdain for the business community whose leaders pleaded for Senators to vote against banning the adoption of these standards. According to the Senator’s Member page, he is “an educator, businessman, and veteran, [who] is committed to bringing vision, integrity and leadership to the Arizona State Senate.” I would imagine, then, he would align himself with leaders of the business community.
Third, and perhaps most import, are the Senator’s stated reasons for his vote. While his initial claims that his is now opposed the Core Standards because, as quoted in the Arizona Star Melvin believe “[i]t got hijacked by Washington, by the federal government,” and “as a conservative Reagan Republican I’m suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general, but also any standards that are coming out of that department” are not at all surprising; opposition to the US Department of Education and anything involving the federal government is standard fair for the GOP. However, when pressed, Senator Melvin shared what is at the heart of his opposition: he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.
Now, I am no fan of the Common Core for a number of reasons including the fact that it doubles down on standardized testing and holds students and teachers to unrealistic expectations. But Senator Melvin’s reasons are absurd!
Unfortunately, men like Senator Melvin are common in the AZ State Senate. I wrote in my letter to the Senator that I “respectfully suggest [he] enroll in a beginning algebra course at the community college nearest [his] home,” the fact of the matter is the citizens of Arizona need to throw these fools out of office.
In the meantime, as I wrote to the Senator, “please enjoy this t-shirt”: