NC House approves replacing Common Core standards

jfrank@newsobserver.comJune 24, 2014 

— Republican lawmakers pushed forward Tuesday to repeal the Common Core education standards despite differences between the House and Senate about how to replace them.

The House voted 74-40 to put its version of the legislation into a Senate repeal bill and send it back to the chamber, a move that will force lawmakers on either side to craft a compromise version in the final weeks of session. The tally fell largely along party lines with the majority Republicans controlling the outcome.

House and Senate Republican bill writers said they expect to get a bill to the governor this year.

“I don’t think the bills are that far apart,” said Rep. Craig Horn, a Weddington Republican and House bill sponsor. “We don’t slip backwards. Both bills call for us to get better.”

The main disagreement is how to replace the language arts and math standards once they are repealed in 2015 or 2016. Both bills create a new state commission to develop North Carolina-tailored standards to replace Common Core.

The House version would prohibit the commission from using the current Common Core standards; the Senate bill would allow the panel to keep the parts it supports. Other minor differences involve the commission’s composition and its role.

Republican Sen. Jerry Tillman of Archdale, a sponsor of the Senate version, said the Senate will push its language, but he anticipates it will reach a deal with the House.

“Why would you tie the hands of a standards commission one way or the other?” he asked. “Why limit what they can do?”

North Carolina was one of the first states to embrace Common Core, now in place in more than 40 states. But support among some conservatives for the standards dissolved in recent months as nation-wide opposition mounted from activists who argued it infringed on state sovereignty.

Others complained about age-inappropriate teaching material and more testing.

“We are eschewing national intervention,” Horn said in an interview after the House vote.

The federal government did not develop the standards but embraced then as a part of the Race to the Top grant program, which provided North Carolina $400 million in 2010, some of which was used to train teachers.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and North Carolina business groups also have expressed concern about repealing Common Core, which put in place tougher standards than the ones developed by the state.

House Democrats are worried that the legislation may lead to complications with the grant and other No Child Left Behind standards in place in the state.

They also objected to the creation of the commission within the Department of Administration, under a Republican governor, without any members from the Department of Public Instruction, which is run by Democratic State Superintendent June Atkinson.

“There are serious unintended consequences and this puts teachers in a state of flux,” said Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Matthews Democrat, after the vote.

Cotham won approval for an amendment to make sure the bill doesn’t infringe upon other private education programs, such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes. Another amendment she sponsored maintained the state’s ability to collect data on how students learn.

Frank: 919-829-4698

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