The following editorial appeared in the Greensboro
News & Record:
If the review of Common Core standards ordered by the state legislature is a waste of time, at least it’s not costing any money.
The Academic Standards Review Commission was authorized to hire consultants “to the extent that funds are available,” but no funds were appropriated.
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This situation has frustrated members of the commission, who held their second meeting last week. “If we’re not going to get any funding, then why are we all here?” commission member Tammy Covil asked.
That’s a good question. North Carolina adopted the Common Core standards in 2010, joining a movement launched by the National Governors Association and embraced by the administration of President Barack Obama. Although states still filled in the details, the idea was to ensure a uniform learning structure all across the country so that high school graduates from North Carolina would be on the same page as their counterparts elsewhere.
This required raising standards here, and too many students failed to meet them in the first two years of implementation. While that drew complaints from parents, even more political pressure against Common Core came from people who saw the new standards, erroneously, as a “federal takeover” of education engineered by Obama. That spelled doom in the Republican legislature, even though GOP Gov. Pat McCrory initially supported Common Core.
So the legislature passed a bill creating a commission to recommend new standards. There was a safety valve in the bill, however. The commission can utilize national and international standards – which could mean keeping Common Core principles but calling them something different to mollify the critics.
The lack of a budget indicates that legislators didn’t take this exercise very seriously and don’t expect much from the commission. So far, ironically, the panel has just heard briefings from Department of Public Instruction officials about the Common Core standards – the people who set them up in the first place.
Commission members may have some ideas for improvements, which are always possible. There may be elements of the standards that don’t work well or aren’t grade-appropriate.
What has made less sense is the notion that educational standards should be North Carolina-specific. Math and English don’t change when they cross the boundary from another state into North Carolina. Many North Carolina children will go to college in other states. They will compete for jobs against young people from other states and countries. The world is bigger than North Carolina, and setting North Carolina-only educational standards won’t help our young people when they venture into that larger sphere.
Common Core represents a good effort to increase academic rigor throughout the country and make sure that all American young people get a good start. North Carolina made a wise decision four years ago to adopt these standards. It would be a mistake to abandon them.
Since the Academic Standards Review Commission was given an unfunded mandate, the state may get what it pays for.
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