Southwest Wake News

Wake County school board committee backs keeping Common Core standards

A Wake County school board committee doesn’t want state legislators to drop Common Core and replace it with a new set of learning standards for public schools.

Last week, a state legislative commission backed a draft bill that would replace the Common Core State Standards in reading and math in use for the past two school years. Monday, the Wake County school board’s government relations committee agreed to add preserving the standards to issues it will lobby the General Assembly on this year.

“To change our curriculum again after three years just would be turmoil that we don’t need for our employees, for our children and for our state,” board member Bill Fletcher said after the meeting.

The legislative agenda still faces a vote by the full school board. But a majority of members attended Monday.

Adopted by 45 states, Common Core sets out consistent learning standards in reading and math aimed at better preparation for college and careers. The Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association developed the standards to be fewer but deeper, and to build more critical thinking and problem solving.

A national fight has erupted over Common Core, with critics calling it a federal overreach because the U.S. Department of Education offered incentives for states to adopt the standards in the Race to the Top grant competition.

Common Core has been a target primarily of the tea party wing of the Republican Party. But the new standards have also been criticized by some on the left, who worry about education decisions being driven by corporate interests, foundations and philanthropists such as Bill Gates. Some states are moving to abandon or rename the standards or bow out of consortia that are developing new tests.

The bill to replace Common Core is expected to come up in the legislative session that begins in May.

Earlier this year, superintendents of North Carolina’s 10 largest school districts, including Wake, Durham and Johnston counties, urged the state to keep Common Core for at least seven years.

Fletcher said that the standards needs to be in place for seven years to assess how well they’re being implemented.

“I’m concerned that the standards are being hijacked by politics when for the most part they are good,” he said.

School board member Susan Evans said some “tweaking” could be in order, but not elimination of Common Core. She cited the “legitimate concerns” of parents about the material’s being developmentally inappropriate because it’s too hard for young students.

Staff writer Jane Stancill contributed to this report.