Wake Ed

Wake County school board questions attacks on Common Core

Rolesville Middle School students (L:R) Michaela Brown, Julian Stinnett, Armani Rodriguez, Pedro Hernandez and Kaitlin Seagraves work on an assignment in Mary Nelson's Common Core Math 7 Plus class at the school on Feb. 21, 2014.
Rolesville Middle School students (L:R) Michaela Brown, Julian Stinnett, Armani Rodriguez, Pedro Hernandez and Kaitlin Seagraves work on an assignment in Mary Nelson's Common Core Math 7 Plus class at the school on Feb. 21, 2014. cseward@newsobserver.com

Some Wake County school board members say they’re worried that a state commission isn’t getting sound feedback as it prepares to make recommendations on how to replace the Common Core standards used in public schools.

During Tuesday’s school board work session, legislative lobbyist Courtney Crowder said that the N.C. Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) is expected to issue recommendations in December or January. Attention soon turned to Monday’s commission meeting, where several Common Core opponents spoke against the math and language arts standards.

According to a report on WUNC, parent Jennifer Schrand told the commission about the struggles her fourth-grade daughter is having with math. Schrand said that her daughter told her she was smart in math last year but this year she’s not.

“Do we have any sense as to how that’s going?” school board member Jim Martin asked Tuesday about what the commission is hearing. “The report I heard on the news this morning was a mother saying that last year my daughter was outstanding in math and this year she’s failing.”

“Like that’s Common Core’s fault,” interjected school board Vice Chairman Tom Benton.

“And it’s Common Core’s fault, yeah,” continued Martin, a N.C. State chemistry professor. “I get that with freshmen. I was great at high school chemistry and I come to your class and I’m failing.

“Well in my class you actually have to understand and relate things and I don’t give you the study guides that say here if you memorize all these things you’re done.

“So I guess my concern is where is that kind of anecdotal, no educational data stuff going? Is it having an impact in the hearing or are we actually going to get some sound educational analysis?”

Crowder responded that the commission is charged with getting feedback from parents and other stakeholders who have a perspective on Common Core.

“That’s a perspective on something other than the curriculum,” Martin replied.

Martin and his fellow Wake school board members and the school administration have been outspoken supporters of keeping Common Core.

In January 2014, Wake Superintendent Jim Merrill joined the superintendents of North Carolina’s largest school systems in issuing a joint position paper saying the state should stick with Common Core for at least seven years before making changes.

In April 2014, a Wake County school board committee said dropping Common Core would lead to “turmoil.” The committee’s actions took place at the same time the General Assembly was moving forward with legislation that would lead to the creation of the Academic Standards Review Commission.

In June 2014, Wake County school board members called elimination of Common Core a “political overreach” by state lawmakers.

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