Education
4:27 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Common Core 'Inappropriate For Schools' - Lawmakers Seek To Replace Standards

This is from a math classroom in Chapel Hill
This prompt is one of many suggested in a middle school math classroom in Chapel Hill.
Credit Carol Jackson

State lawmakers are moving forward with a proposal to get rid of the Common Core standards in North Carolina classrooms. The House Education Committee voted on Tuesday in favor of a bill that would come up with new Math and English standards. Common Core was initially adopted by 45 states and set high goals for what students across the country should be able to do before they move on to the next grade. But opponents of the standards say they are not developmentally appropriate for children and that they take control away from the state. 

Many lawmakers want to toss the national Common Core standards for one very simple reason.

“It’s our job. Period,” said Republican Representative Craig Horn of Union County.

Horn said it’s North Carolina’s job to set its own education standards.

“And we do not cede that responsibility to anyone – any organization, to a federal government, anyone," he said.

To be clear, Common Core did not come from the federal government. State governors and nonprofit leaders developed them a few years back to replace a hodgepodge of state standards with one, consistent set of learning goals.

But the federal government did play a role. It told states that if they sign onto Common Core, they’ll have a greater chance of getting millions of dollars in education grants. North Carolina got 400 million dollars.

“We do not want to find ourselves in a situation to send 400 million dollars back to the federal government, so with that being said, this bill does replace Common Core, but it does not rip the rug from under us today,” said Republican Representative Bryan Holloway.

Holloway says the proposed bill would create a review commission to rewrite the standards so that they’re tailored to the needs of North Carolina students. That process would begin this year and end by 2016, according to a sponsor of the bill. 

In the meantime, North Carolina classrooms would still rely on the Math and English Common Core standards.

“This in no way leaves us without standards, we will have standards,” said Holloway.

Representative Holloway said the state will come up with new standards by reviewing all of the other different kinds of standards out there, which could very well share many similarities to Common Core.

“So it’s not going to flip the school system upside down on its head, there are just things in Common Core that we feel is inappropriate for schools, we don’t think it’s the right direction for us to go,” he said.

Some critics of Common Core say many of the standards are not driven by research and are not developmentally appropriate for students. They also say that not enough teachers were involved in the writing-process.

A Rocky Common Core Roll Out

It’s important to note that Common Core is a set of standards, or goals. For example, one English standard says that second graders should be able to write and support short opinion pieces. That’s different than curriculum. Curriculum is what teachers do every day in the classrooms to achieve those goals.

Many lawmakers and school leaders admit that implementing Common Core has been tough. That’s why Democratic representative Paul Tine of Kitty Hawk says the state should focus on fixing Common Core while it considers other options.

“We know we have problems today, that need to be fixed today, for my kids today,” said Tine.

Tine offered an amendment to make sure the state still offers professional development and financial support for Common Core while new standards are written. But lawmakers voted against it.

Other lawmakers argued that many teachers and school leaders want to keep Common Core. Democratic legislator Graig Meyer represents Durham and Orange County. He says he’s been to many school hearings on Common Core where the debate falls into either pragmatic or ideological camps.

“The pragmatists were saying, let’s repair the Common Core, we know that we need better communication with parents, that we need it to be more developmentally appropriate, that we need more professional development for teachers, that we need more time and money allotted to testing, we knew all those were issues,” he said.

He said the people who asked legislators to replace Common Core gave ideological arguments.

“They told us that Common Core is likely to lead us to socialism, fascism, monarchy, crony capitalism and I don’t think all four of those things are possible from one set of standards.”

Meyer also said that the Common Core debate is not a partisan issue. Governor Pat McCrory and many leaders in the business community have expressed support for the standards.

The House bill is still a few steps away before it ever becomes law – next, it’ll have to go to the appropriations committee before heading to the House floor.