Raleigh, N.C. — As North Carolina lawmakers work on plans to replace the national Common Core academic standards in the state's public schools, a group of retired military officers said Thursday that the state needs to give the program more time.
The group Mission Readiness: Military Leaders for Kids argued that Common Core standards are necessary to ensure the nation's future military strength. They said the standards will make students better prepared to compete in the military, in college and in the workplace.
"What we need is for a Common Core standard in-state for every grade that we have in North Carolina so that we get all the teachers on the same road moving in the same direction. Does this tell them how to teach? Absolutely not," retired Army Gen. Marvin Covault said.
Common Core standards for math and English were developed by state and nonprofit leaders, and they have been embraced by President Barack Obama's Education Department and adopted by 44 states. The standards set out what students need to know and be able to do in order to graduate from high schools, but school districts and classroom teachers still decide how that material is taught.
The House and Senate last week passed bills that would appoint a state commission to review North Carolina's educational standards. The House bill would not allow the panel to consider continuing to use Common Core as a basis for future standards. Senators left open the possibility that Common Core, with modifications, would continue to serve as the basis for North Carolina's public school standards.
Underpinning much of the push for repeal is the sense by political conservatives that North Carolina had ceded its prerogative to set educational standards in favor of national program tainted by federal involvement.
North Carolina students are wrapping up their second full year of learning geared toward meeting the math and English standards. Backers of keeping the current Common Core program say the state is making changes to classroom instruction just as teachers and students are adapting to the new approaches.
The military leaders say criticism of the standards is overblown. They said across-the-board standards provide real accountability and consistency for students, parents and teachers.
The North Carolina Chamber and other business groups also have urged lawmakers not to be hasty in trying to ditch the standards. Common Core helps ensure workers and college aspirants meet certain basic qualifications, they have said.
Either the House or the Senate bill needs to pass the other chamber – or lawmakers need to craft compromise legislation – before it can go to Gov. Pat McCrory. He has expressed reservations about repealing the standards.