NC panel OKs draft bill to replace Common Core

A legislative committee voted Thursday to recommend to the full North Carolina General Assembly that it do away with Common Core standards for math and English in public schools.

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina took a step Thursday toward replacing national education standards known as Common Core with state-crafted standards – a move that conservatives say could restore the state’s right to determine what happens in its classrooms and liberals say plays politics with education to reject a policy implemented during President Barack Obama’s administration.

A bicameral state legislative committee approved a draft bill that instructs the state Board of Education to replace Common Core with new standards after consulting with an advisory commission created by the bill. One of the key goals is “to ensure that they are rigorous, meet and reflect North Carolina’s priorities, are age and developmentally appropriate, and are understandable to parents and teachers,” according to the draft bill.

The education standards affect language arts, literacy and math from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Common Core standards will be in place until replacement standards have been approved, said Rep. Bryan Holloway, R-Stokes, a committee co-chairman.

State lawmakers could vote on the bill during the legislature’s short session, which will start May 14.

If the bill is enacted, its proposed advisory commission – referred to as the Academic Standards Review Commission – could meet as early as Sept. 1.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, said in support of the bill during the meeting that policy decisions on education should not be ceded to a national template such as Common Core. “I’ve always been a very strong advocate for rigorous standards,” Tillman said. Later, he continued, “This bill puts education back where the Constitution says it belongs: in the hands of North Carolina.”

Common Core is in place in 44 states.

Bills rejecting Common Core have been filed in 17 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. One state – Indiana – enacted its bill rejecting Common Core, according to the NCSL. Five states – Arizona, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wyoming – rejected theirs. Bills are pending in the 11 other states.

Fewer than half of the states that have adopted the education standards have filed bills in an effort to reject it. According to the Common Core website, 44 states, including North Carolina, had adopted Common Core.

For Sen. Earline Parmon, D-Forsyth, such efforts, including the draft bill approved here, represent a political tool by which a Republican-dominated legislature can thwart an education policy, not for its content, but because it was implemented under the Obama administration.

“This is about who’s in the White House,” she said during a meeting recess. During the meeting, talking to other committee members, Parmon said, “I know my comments will not really change anything as we prepare the voting on this bill, but I just want to say this is a bad way to do policy.”

Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, who attended the meeting but is not a committee member, supports the bill.

“We can take out the things we don’t want, and we’ll be able to add things to it. … I think we’re moving in the right direction,” she said.

Funding cuts, potential changes affect schooling

Members of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education and district officials have repeatedly lamented the difficulties of implementing Common Core curriculum without enough money from the state for textbooks and instructional materials to match.

Statewide, funding for textbooks fell from a high of nearly $111.2 million in the 2009-10 school year to about $23.2 million this year. North Carolina adopted the Common Core standards three years ago and implemented them last school year.

Individual members have not agreed on the best way to address those issues, though.

Jeannie Metcalf said she is glad to see the state moving away from Common Core.

“I hope we can move forward and develop some standards that people in North Carolina think are good standards for North Carolina,” she said.

Elisabeth Motsinger, a local school-board member, said that the implementation of Common Core was rocky but she still supports the idea of rigorous standards that are consistent across state lines and promote critical-thinking skills. The standards should be tweaked, not replaced, she said.

“Everything will always need adjusting and improving,” she said. “That’s doesn’t mean you throw it away.”

Some educators are expressing concern about what the move away from Common Core will mean for the time and money invested so far.

Ann Petitjean, president of the Forsyth County Association of Educators, said the burden will be on teachers who are just starting to get comfortable with Common Core standards.

“To repeal something after using it for two years without giving it a chance – after the amount of money and time spent on training people, purchasing materials – just makes me cringe,” she said. “Now the poor teachers have to go through another training, of another set of standards and a new curriculum.”

Recommendations due December 2015

The bill’s proposed advisory commission would comprise 17 members, including parents of students, math and language-arts teachers, and experts in those subjects, according to the bill. Most of the members would be selected by the House Speaker, Thom Tillis, who is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, and the Senate president pro tempore, Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.

Certain changes could come soon after, as the commission may suggest replacing specific elements of Common Core, under an amendment proposed by Tillman, the Randolph senator. But the commission’s comprehensive report, with broader recommendations, would not be due until December 2015.

“We will fly under the flag that we’re flying under now,” Holloway said, “hopefully with an amendment that will allow us to pull out the most detrimental pieces” before the 2015 deadline.

Rep. Ed Hanes, D-Forsyth, who attended the meeting but is not a committee member, does not support the bill, he said. But Hanes seemed to strike a pragmatic tone with a view toward making education standards as best as they can be for students.

“It shouldn’t be about what makes parents comfortable in terms of who is or who is not in the White House. … We’ve got to stay focused on the kids. We’ve got to stay focused on the fact that we have huge populations of poor students in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County who aren’t reading proficiently at the end of third grade.

“If Common Core can help my kids in those districts do better … then I’m all for Common Core. If the … bill to improve Common Core helps those kids read, then that’s what we need to be looking at,” Hanes said.

18 comments

  • dewey

    W passes the Santorum Act, or No Child Left Behind….education standards drop and we start rewarding mediocrity from our children….what is so wrong with everyone knowing the same thing at the same level…I’m willing to bet the next thing that passes in Raleigh is to end the teaching of evolution

    • wake up: it isn't working.

      they should do away with that. i DID NOT COME FROM AN APE. GOD CEATED ME AND EVERYONE ELSE. I wonder if you even have a child in this school system in NC. THE TEACHING METHODS HAVE GONE WAY DOWN.

      • dewey

        2 daughters….and yes, you’re ancestors were monkey’s…..before that, you were some kind of lizard……not to mention, most men didn’t evolve too much past canines….the magician in the book doesn’t exist

    • TG

      I don’t inherently think there’s anything wrong with common standards, but our kids won’t have the ability to know the same thing at the same level without proper funding. We live in your generic middle class town in Florida. (I applaud NC for at least looking at coming up with their own standards, but it still goes back to funding.) Our kids are going to have significantly more access to text books, technology, etc… than the kids who live in the middle of a corn field. If the federal government wants to mandate the use of a common set of standards, they should be funding these standards without the threat of losing money.

      The work they are expecting is neither age or developmentally appropriate on many levels. Why do our 4th graders need to learn Algebra before they know long division? Why is my 2nd grade daughter going in to fractions and geometry when they haven’t completed multiple digit addition and subtraction? Both of my kids read at significantly higher levels than I did at their age (and I’ve always been a fluent reader) yet, the projects coming home are nowhere near anything that the kids can do on their own. I let my daughter do her last project, a power point, 99% by herself. I typed, she chose all the facts and reworded them for her powerpoint. She got a 5/15. You know what? We celebrated those 5 points because she did them on her own.

      Within the same school some classes are doing projects at home some are doing them in class – where they should be done so that they have access to the teacher who assigned the project.

      • dewey

        “Why do our 4th graders need to learn Algebra before they know long division? Why is my 2nd grade daughter going in to fractions and geometry when they haven’t completed multiple digit addition and subtraction?”

        ….look at where US students are against the rest of the world….unfortunately, we live in a global society and without them picking up the pace, the space grows wider and wider. Remember when the world was supposed to switch to the metric system? 50 years later and we’re still on the imperial system….if it wasn’t for marijuana, most in the US would have no idea how to use the metric system

      • Maxine

        Dewey, please explain “look where US students are against the rest of the world”. The US can’t actually compare because the comparison is apples to oranges not apples to apples. Please sit on a public classroom for a few weeks and then try and intelligently discuss the politics of this profession. 30 students to 1 teacher ratio with profoundly disturbed to highly intelligent students in the same classroom. Not what ANY other country does. No comparison to a US classroom!

  • Chucky

    How in the heck does this topic breed comments on evolution? LOL What matters here is how the current schools are teaching our students. With the current system, the teachers spend a lot of time teaching the students to pass standardized tests and a lot of time on documentation. Instead of a student getting a better education, they get one that helps them to get scores on tests so the schools don’t loose funding. That is a problem. There are a lot of students who pass the tests but can’t read or write on their grade level. If you take the computer or phone away they can’t spell or do simple math. Something needs to be done. Is this the solution? I honestly don’t know but the status quo doesn’t work.

    • dewey

      give an inch, and someone will try and take a mile…Common Core now, but with those bass ackwards individuals in Raleigh could introduce an evolution bill anytime now

  • Kristie

    Sen Parmon is speaking only of politics. She clearly does not have a child in school, and has never sat at the kitchen table to do math homework that does not teach the simple subtraction method but uses graphs and dots and sentences instead of the simple way. It is frustrating for the children, their parents and teachers. Teachers are frustrated with the constant evaluation and testing and less focus on teaching and teaching to how children learn differently. It was passed quietly on purpose without the proper review and this is a move to correct that. For the good of children, parents and teachers. Government does not belong here.

    • dewey

      if you ever got on a yellow bus and went to a public school, the government was involved….if you had books that you didn’t pay for, the government was involved….if you ate lunch at school and didn’t bring it from home, the government was involved…if you sat in home school, the government was involved…….

      • Maxine

        Yes, we know we are all within the govt. reach as we all pay taxes. :) I think Kristie is saying the FEDERAL govt. The state should be able to exercise LOCAL control WITHIN the Constitutional guidelines. Dewey, your comments are off-putting. You don’t seem to care about respectful, kind-hearted dialogue. Why is this? You seem to have a real beef with God and The Bible. Perhaps you could explain why?

  • Deborah Roll

    As a teacher, can we please have well qualified teachers as part of the panel to develop a more suitable curriculum. I am frustrated with people who rarely set foot in a classroom developing standards that are developmentally inappropriate for students, especially at elementary school levels. Please listen to teachers who have the experience and training to know what is suitable to the cognitive ability of students!!!

  • Steve

    Some people are so misinformed and uneducated. Barack Obama ruined the space program in this country, he cut the budget to our military, which protects his sorry butt, he jammed some maniacal health care back woods program down our throats, and oh yes, he spent 780 million dollars on a stimulus package that stimulated what, POVERTY! His wife decimated the food pyramid, made it look like a five-year old designed it(how embarassing), tried to force her beans and sprouts diet on our kids at school. By the way, school systems DROPPED HER PLAN because kids were not getting enough to eat. Now Barack wants to get his hands on our school systems? Can’t teach the Obama Math, because he can’t balance a budget. Can’t teach the Obama English, because he can’t comprehend. Can’t teach the Obama History because his only focus would be on the Middle East. I am certainly glad my kids are finishing school. I would not want a textbook with Barack Obama ideals lying in front of my children. Let’s replace Common Core with common sense.

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