Ligon Withdraws Support for Common Core Bill He Championed

Mar 11, 2014

The House Education Committee is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill aimed at pulling Georgia away from the Common Core standards. The committee amended the bill after a hearing last week. But now, the bill’s sponsor has withdrawn his support for the legislation.

Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) defended SB 167 during a House Education Committee hearing last week.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

At last week's hearing, Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) explained why his bill created an advisory council to review the Common Core.

“We’re making it clear in the bill that Georgia will retain absolute control and the right to determine what our standards and assessments will be,” he said.

But State Schools Superintendent and Republican Gubernatorial Candidate John Barge said state officials weren’t pressured into adopting the standards.  

“This state board of education adopted these standards voluntarily,” Barge said. “They were not forced; they were not coerced. They reviewed these standards, thought they were quality standards, and they adopted them.”

Ligon and the bill’s other supporters said the standards are a federal intrusion. The Common Core standards were developed by a consortium of states. However, they were tied to federal Race to the Top grant money, which some conservatives saw as a federal overreach.

But Barge was just one of the bill’s critics. Teachers, superintendents, businesses, and military members bombarded the committee with support for the Common Core.

Committee member and teacher Rep. Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) asked Ligon to pinpoint his opposition.

“Could you specify for me 2-3 standards that you have concerns about?” she asked. “Could you tell me exactly which ones?”

“I would have to go and look,” Ligon said.

  Ligon cited independent reviews of the standards that concluded they’re weak.

The amended version of the bill still establishes a review council. But it relaxes some other restrictions on developing standards, adopting assessments, and collecting and using student data. 

In a press release Tuesday, Ligon said he can’t support the bill because “it does nothing to stop our State from continuing its involvement in the national standards movement.”

Ligon is expected to discuss the issue further at a press conference Wednesday, just hours before the scheduled committee vote.