- Associated Press - Thursday, April 24, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder appealed to hundreds of educators and business leaders Thursday to support the implementation of Common Core educational standards, which many conservatives nationwide have denounced as a top-down takeover of local schools.

The uniform national education standards known as Common Core are “the right answer” for Michigan’s education system, Snyder said during the 19th Governor’s Education Summit.

“It’s about setting a standard that we can be globally competitive with - we are in global competition,” Snyder said. “And the way I view it is we need to have high standards … that allow local flexibility in how to achieve those standards.”

Michigan’s student performance on math and reading tests placed in the bottom third of all states in 2013, according to an analysis of federal data by Education Trust-Midwest, an education advocacy group in Michigan.

The Common Core standards were developed by a panel of educators convened by governors and state superintendents and voluntarily adopted by most states in 2010. Opponents later criticized the lack of local input. Indiana became the first state to drop the standards last month.

New assessment tests aligned with Common Core are being developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which Michigan has participated in for about three years. The final Michigan Education Assessment Program test was administered last year, and the Legislature is debating which test to use next.

Plans to transition to Smarter Balanced tests took heat last year in the Republican-led Legislature, which allowed spending on Common Core implementation to resume after a three-week pause but balked at funding the companion tests. The Education Department has said switching to Smarter Balanced is the only viable option.

“I would appreciate your support because I believe this is going to be a continuing political issue,” Snyder said to applause.

The Republican governor also emphasized the need to increase support for skilled trades and teacher effectiveness. Michigan has a “skills gap” that can be reduced by connecting students with professionals to better relate classroom learning to future careers, he said.

He called on businesses “to step up to collaborate more with us in terms of understanding what the demand for talent is, where there are opportunities in the future.”

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