Senate approves version of Common Core repeal plan

Posted June 5, 2014

— The state Senate voted Thursday for a bill that could begin moving North Carolina's public school curriculum away from the much-debated Common Core standards, which have become a focal point for the ire of some parents and many political conservatives. 

Senators voted 33-15 for their version of the measure the day after House lawmakers approved their own measure. In order to pass the General Assembly, one version of the bill must pass both chambers. 

Both versions of the bill would appoint a state commission to review North Carolina's educational standards. The House bill would not allow that commission 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. 

"There will not be a gap in standards," said Sen. Dan Soucek, R-Watauga, the measure's author. 

Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, said that the Common Core math standards expected too little of high school students while its math standards for elementary age kids were "unrealistic and not age-appropriate." 

North Carolina students are wrapping up their second full year of learning geared toward meeting the 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 repeal bill "introduces instability at exactly the wrong time," said Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake.

"Why are we saying to teachers who have spent untold numbers of hours learning how to teach ... 'All that work you've put into it, we've got a commission, and we may throw it out the window?'" Stein 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 are not a curriculum, but they do set out what students need to know and be able to do in order to graduate from high schools. School districts and classroom teachers still decide how that material is taught.

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. 

The push for repeal has faced opposition from business leaders, who say high education standards will help businesses find good workers, and Gov. Pat McCrory, who said lawmakers should focus on testing rather than doing away with standards.

"(This is) the message we don't want to send to the world right now. We want to make sure we're open for business, and we're serious about talent," said Lew Ebert, president of the North Carolina Chamber. 

For business leaders, the push for Common Core standards is linked to the need to ensure workers and college aspirants meet certain basic qualifications. 

Ebert said the Chamber favors the Senate bill over the House version. 

"I think you're going to see a bill out of here (the Senate) that is more moderate around that and more focused on the fact we have high standards now. If can make them higher and more rigorous, let's try and do that," he said. 

The House bill, he said, is focused on repealing the Common Core standards but it doesn't ensure continued work on improving the state's own academic standards.


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  • Danny22 Jun 6, 2014

    Good. Standards are good but when the fed is involved, that is a very dangerous thing. Nix Common Core.

  • Terry Watts Jun 6, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    That may be so. But the reality of the situation is that the Feds gave us a ton of our tax-money in order to update our schools.

    I have no issue with NC rejecting Common Core as long as we put into place an equal or greater system. Virginia did so - improved their own State written Standards - and still received RTtT money. We can do the same thing. But the key is improving our own State Standards.

    But I do have two real grievances about the issue. It seems that people are so offended by the fact that the Feds are somehow involved that they are forgetting that we are getting back our own tax money back to make improvements to our own schools. And my other (larger) grievance is that this whole issue is a smoke screen to remove power from an elected official in the DPI and hand it over to political appointees of the GA.

  • sendusmessage Jun 5, 2014

    Good, happy to hear we're getting rid of the Washington power grab. Am a bit irritated at all the propaganda someone is putting on the radio in favor of Common Core. Clearly someone has a vested interest in this.

  • AFVeteran Jun 5, 2014

    Untie teachers hands and let them teach. Politicians need to involve teachers for effective education policy. 10 year old children shouldn't be crying and going to counseling over EOG testing.

  • Bill Gibson Jun 5, 2014
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    Seems like "we" change the yardstick every few years. We do another study, and come to the conclusion that you can't compare apples & oranges... or crack wise that you can make statistics mean whatever you want them to. Which begs the question, "Why waste money on another study?" Students usually get out of high school, whether they have learned much, or not. They even go to college in greater numbers than they should. Colleges spend money and time to try and get unprepared students ready for college. When they drop out, in large numbers, they have a large debt that they can't get rid of by filing bankruptcy. But, North Carolinians usually feel pretty good about how well we educate. At least we don't want to "throw money at it" to improve it.

  • aggie Jun 5, 2014

    I don't cAre if it is Common Core, No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top funds. The issue is a one size fits all model. All children will never learn at the same age or rate no more than all children will be able to dunk a ball by 9th grade. The only way to establish these kind of standards are to forget a child's age and place them in a class according to ability. People don't like that as a slow learner feelings may be hurt. Which will hurt worse, retention or promotion. That's what's happening now due to the one size fits all model.

  • Terry Watts Jun 5, 2014
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    Then you'll be glad to know that the CC Standards were developed by Governors, Educators, Education Industry Leaders, Parents, etc. The only thing the Fed Dept. of Ed did was give out money to those that would accept the Standards (or create their own that are of equal value, like VA)...

  • iopsyc Jun 5, 2014

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    You miss the points that the Federal government did not develop Common Core and that Common Core does not dictate "how to teach kids", but rather sets standards for what kids should know by certain grade levels in Math and English.

    The Department of Education did incentiveize it with Race to the Top grant monies, but that's very different from developing something.

  • rocket Jun 5, 2014

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    Fair enough. It's not their role to set standards either.

  • iopsyc Jun 5, 2014

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    First off, we seem to be on the same side. I was replying to Krimson, who joked about what and how they'd name it with a find/replace. The bill actually specifies what they plan to call it, which I think is silly posturing. They are going out of their way to declare that the new standards (whatever they may be) are far removed from Common Core and specific to North Carolina, when they don't even know how much would change.

    So, even if the review committee decides that the standards currently called CC are fine and nothing should change, they will have to call them "North Carolina Standard Course of Study" because that's what the GA specified.