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February 5-- Sen. William Ligon ( R – Brunswick), surrounded by a crowd of parents, children, and grassroots leaders holding "Stop Common Core" signs, held a rally and press conference at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.

Sen. Ligon and others called on the Governor as well as the State Legislature to withdraw Georgia from its participation in Common Core national standards and forego any testing associated with these standards.

“Today, I had the opportunity to join many Georgians from around the state at the “Stop the Common Core” Rally at the State Capitol,” said Sen. Ligon. “I am looking forward to the day when Georgia is out of the Common Core and our state asserts its complete autonomy over our own educational decisions.”

During the press conference, Sen. Ligon outlined two of the bills he is sponsoring, Senate Bill 203 and Senate Bill 167, to reassert Georgia’s constitutional autonomy over education. The bills, on file from last year, are being revised to ensure a more detailed process for the adoption of standards and to provide specific prohibitions on data collection and tracking.

Senate Bill 203, “An Act to Restore Educational Authority to Georgia Citizens,” would provide an orderly process to withdraw the state from Common Core and would ensure a more transparent process for the adoption of Georgia's educational standards.  Senate Bill 203 would also create the Curriculum Content Standards Advisory Council, which is to be comprised of 24 members, including parents, teachers and college professors, to advise the State Board of Education on revising and adopting content standards. The bill would also allow school systems the local option to conform their curriculum and instruction to the previous Georgia Performance Standards while the process of revising math and English language arts standards occurs over the next two years.

Senate Bill 167, “The Student Right to Privacy Act," would protect personally identifiable student information. The bill strictly delineates the limited categories of data that can be collected and disclosed without parental consent and requires written consent for any other data-collection or data-disclosure. It prohibits the use of any student records for commercial purposes. It ensures that state agencies, local districts, and education institutions must disclose the nature of the information that they collect on students and give parents access to those records. It also prohibits the use of funds for constructing and maintaining any data system that is designed to systematically collect records on students beyond their K-12 and college education. 

The rally was sponsored by Concerned Women for America of Georgia with participation from American Principles in Action and many other organizations throughout the state including the Georgia Republican Party, the Georgia Baptist Convention, Americans for Prosperity Georgia, the North Georgia Tea Party Alliance, the Georgia Tenth Amendment Coalition, the Georgia Republican Assembly, Citizen Impact USA, and the Capitol Coalition of Conservative Leaders.

“I would specifically like to thank Governor Nathan Deal for hearing the concerns of parents throughout the state, and I look forward to working with him to achieve the highest possible standards for Georgia students,” said Sen. Ligon. “We’re optimistic that the Georgia General Assembly will have a bill that addresses the concerns of parents, and does the right thing for the students of this state.”

Mike Griffin, speaking on behalf of the Georgia Baptist Convention, stated, "When it comes to the battle for the heart and soul of our country, no battleground is more strategic and sacred than the one that deals with the education of our country's children." He stated that "any effort to nationalize standards and to centralize educational control" was not a policy that the Georgia Baptist Convention could support. "We believe that withdrawing Georgia from Common Core will be in the best interest of all Georgians, and will restore authority to our citizens, to our parents, and to our state elected representatives."

Sen. Ligon was also joined by Tanya Ditty, State Director of the Concerned Women for America of Georgia, who serves on their Legislative Action Committee and is a strong advocate for putting an end to the Common Core.

“I was proud to stand with Sen. Ligon today, as we work together to stop Common Core in Georgia. “He is a man of conviction, strong moral character and integrity. Sen. Ligon is fighting valiantly for our children’s future, and we appreciate his leadership during this trying time,” said Ditty.

Senate Bill 203 and Senate Bill 167 have been referred to the Senate Education and Youth Committee. Sen. Ligon expects his revised bills to be up for debate in committee next week.

A rally in support of Common Core was scheduled for Wednesday at the Capitol.