Questions are still swirling about the Numeracy Act, Senate Bill 171 (SB171), which is a $92 million proposal offered by Education Trust Fund Chairman State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur).

Detractors claim it is an end-around run at bolstering so-called Common Core standards in Alabama's math curriculum.

However, Orr insists that is not the case at all.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio WVNN's "The Dale Jackson Show," the Morgan County Republican lawmaker dismissed claims of Common Core, which had been made by Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director Becky Gerritson and others.

"I chuckle because we've done all we can to repeal Common Core, if you will, in the bill," he said. "According to them, there are vestiges of Common Core in our 2019 standards. This bill has nothing to do with Common Core. It doesn't promote it. It doesn't add to. It just puts a lot of mechanisms in place to address our 52nd-in-the-country ranking in eighth-grade math when it comes to our very deplorable state that we have.

"So, it doesn't change anything as far as the curriculum," Orr continued. "It just takes the current curriculum that we have in place, like I say and builds upon it. The current curriculum was put in in 2019, and it was an effort to purge whatever Common Core was in at the time."

Orr spoke of a side-by-side comparison of a 20-year-old middle school math curriculum with a modern-day example, arguing there were similarities to a pre-Common Core era. He went on to insist all efforts had been made to remove it.

"I'll share this little vignette with you," Orr explained. "At the House committee hearing this week, it was said by one of the members who has a child, I think, in middle school. And he said he had all of his old math textbooks' problems -- this is the representative, pulled out his old math textbook and was comparing it with what his son was using for his current-day math. It was the same stuff. That was 20-plus years ago, and a lot of it is the same.

"So, if we were talking about history or science or something like that, I'd be a lot more concerned about this Common Core boogeyman," he added. "When it comes to math, the world has moved on. The NAEP, which is the gold standard of testing -- it does have elements of, quote, 'Common Core' in there. It's just a different way to figure out the problem. I think we've done what we can -- the state school board, the superintendent to excise it. Like I say, in the bill, it kills all known Common Core that we may have related to math in the state departments. We've done what we can."

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