Education
8:45 am
Fri April 25, 2014

NC Lawmakers Propose Repeal Of Common Core Standards

Fourth-grade teacher Rosalyn Bailey explains a math assignment to her students at Hubbard Elementary School in Nash County.
Credit Reema Khrais

State lawmakers say they’re hoping to throw away the Common Core standards and replace them with North Carolina’s own education standards.

In a legislative study committee on Thursday, lawmakers proposed a bill that would create a review commission to rewrite the academics standards by December 2015. 

The Common Core standards, initially adopted by 45 states, set high, rigorous goals for what students across the country should be able to do. Supporters of the national standards say they raise the bar in terms of what students should know – that they’re more rigorous.

But North Carolina, along with many states, has seen a big Common Core backlash, driven by critics who argue that the standards were implemented too quickly, place too much pressure on teachers and take control away from the state. 

'If you believe in Common Core, they own it all, and North Carolina owns nothing.' - Senator Jerry Tillman

"If you adopt national standards, that triggers everything else," said Republican Senator Jerry Tillman at a legislative meeting Thursday. "It triggers your textbooks, your tests and your teaching methods. If you believe in Common Core, they own it all, and North Carolina owns nothing."

Republican Senator Jerry Tillman says the federal government enticed states to adopt Common Core by offering financial grants. 

"This bill puts education back to where the constitution says it belongs - in the hands of North Carolina," Tillman said. 

Rewriting Standards For NC

The bill that Tillman and other lawmakers proposed deletes any legislative language that has to do with the Common Core standards. But that doesn’t mean they’ll disappear tomorrow or even next month. 

"Otherwise, if you just rip the rug out today, you've got to be prepared to put something in its place today," said Rep. Bryan Holloway, R-Stokes. "We're not prepared for that. Or you operate with no standards and that's a situation where you have to send 400-million dollars back to the federal government and we don't want to have to do that."

Under the bill, a 17-person commission would come up with its recommendations by December 2015 to present for the 2016 legislative session. Until then, state leaders would still be able to make changes to the Common Core standards as they see fit.  

'Policy Whiplash'

Some legislators, however, raised concerns that changing the standards intermittently could hurt teachers and students. 

"An interim report could send us in one direction and another report send us in another direction and that is a problem already for teachers now," said Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union. "They're trying to figure out what standards should they be teaching, what direction they should be going."

Despite his hesitations, Horn did vote to repeal Common Core. But many other legislators say it’s just bad policy to back out now and that the state has spent too much money, time and resources.

"And now to say today that we're going to stop in mid-stream, change it, adjust it, none of us know what that's going to look like," said Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg.

'We're going after Common Core because we're connecting it to the federal government and Obama, and that;s just crazy, get over that and just do what's best for the kids.' - Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg

Cotham says that there are many unanswered questions and that the debate has become highly politicized.

"We’re going after Common Core because we’re connecting it to the federal government and Obama, and that’s just crazy, get over that and just do what’s best for the kids," she said.

President Barack Obama’s Department of Education did embrace Common Core, but state and nonprofit leaders created the standards. 

But all of that aside, some critics do have plain and simple issues with the quality of the standards. Parent Andrea Dillon from Wake County attended the meeting alongside dozens of other critics. She says Common Core is not developmentally appropriate for her son. 

"Just for an example, they’re doing persuasive writing pieces in first-grade where he has to have an opening sentence, three supporting sentences and a closing argument for a text he’s read, and he has to do that on his own – he’s seven," she said. 

The proposed bill still needs approval from the House and Senate when the full legislature reconvenes next month. It'll then have to go through Governor Pat McCrory, who  has expressed support for Common Core in the past. 

>> For more on the common core debate, read WRAL's story "Lawmakers propose dumping common core standards in NC," reported by Laura Leslie and Mark Binker.