State considering dropping Common Core

Apr. 27, 2014 @ 06:51 AM

State lawmakers are divided on recent legislation to appeal nationwide curriculum standards.

A General Assembly study committee Thursday recommended colleagues pass a law directing the State Board of Education to replace the Common Core standards for math and language arts with something else, with input from a proposed standards commission. The alterations could cause conflict with GOP Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina Chamber as both have praised Common Core.

Sen. Jerry Tillman proposed the legislation titled “Replace Common Core to Meet N.C.’s Needs” during a General Assembly Common Core committee meeting Thursday.

The legislation called for an appeal of the national standards and the adoption of N.C.’s very own. The legislation also proposes a special commission be created under the Department of Administration to continue to review the state’s standards.

State Sen. Floyd McKissick, who represents Granville County in District 20, spoke of his dread for what the repeal could do to both the state and the nation.

“I believe that it is a step backwards in the wrong direction,” he said. “We are competing in an international environment where our students need the adequate skills to compete. ... If we go out and get standards simply for N.C. and deviate from Common Core, are they going to lower the bar or are they going to raise the bar?

“I don’t think we could raise the bar. We are in a race to bomb. We need to be in a race to the top.”

Common Core is a set of rigorous guidelines to ensure K-12 students learn the same things in English and math as their peers in other states. It’s been adopted by about 40 states, but some have already repealed them or have started the process to do so. The aim was to set clear, common goals for students at every grade level to master curriculum studies and demonstrate learnings in real life situations, as they would in college and careers.

Debate over Common Core’s effectiveness started with its adoption in North Carolina in June 2010 and continued with its implementation in 2012.

Teachers felt they were not prepared to revamp teaching methods, and budget cuts especially at the state level prevented local school systems for supplying the means to do so, opponents say.

Some parents also expressed frustration for the extra anxiety placed on their children due to increased amount of testing the standards require.

When Tillman introduced the legislation in committee, he said control of the state’s educational standards should not be regulated by the federal government.

“This bill puts education back where it belongs, in the hands of North Carolina,” Tillman said . “That’s where I want it.”

Reaction from lawmakers and educational leaders statewide has been mixed.

Superintendent June Atkinson released a formal statement expressing how Common Core was essential to keeping North Carolina students competitive in the college and career markets. She felt that it should be reviewed for efficiently but not done away with completely.

“The Common Core standards in English language arts and mathematics are rigorous and aligned with the skills that students need today,” she wrote. “That is why the State Board of Education adopted them in the first place.”

The proposed legislation will come before house or senate education committees in the coming months but not without heated discussion.

“I would hope that the wiser minds would prevail — it will have to come from the business industry — so we can see it defeated,” McKissick said. “Only time will tell.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.