Raleigh considers answers to Common Core question


North Carolina could be the next state to end the debate over Common Core standards with repeal legislation despite hesitant feedback from business professionals, educators and Gov. Pat McCrory.

The standards, which set rigorous expectations for students in math and language arts, have prompted mixed reactions since they were adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia in 2010.

Indiana was the first state to respond to the ambivalent reception by unadopting the standards in March 2014. South Carolina and Oklahoma followed suit. North Carolina could be next, with repeal legislation garnering strong support in the state legislature despite strong voices of support for the standards from the business community.

“We feel like there’s a lot of misinformation about Common Core. It’s not a curriculum. It’s what kids are expected to be able to do as they move from grade to grade. It is trying to pull our children’s education level up to the point that they are productive members of the workforce,” said Connie Majure-Rhett, president and CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, during a June 10 phone interview.

Majure-Rhett said she was worried about how business recruiters’ perception of North Carolina would change following a repeal.

“North Carolina has always been known as a great education state … and every time we make a decision that dings education, it doesn’t play well … in terms of recruiting business,” Majure-Rhett said.

Majure-Rhett acknowledged that there was undoubtedly a learning curve for educators and administrators in implementing such a huge change but believes the standards still need time to work.

“I feel pretty strongly that this was the right move for North Carolina … and I hate to see us reversing or changing courses. We don’t even know if it will work. We haven’t given it enough time to work,” Majure-Rhett said.

The state legislature needs to agree on an approach before legislation makes its way to Gov. Pat McCrory. The House voted to repeal the standards on June 4 while the Senate approved a more moderate initiative to create a commission to review and possibly modify the standards on June 5.

The North Carolina Chamber has supported the Senate’s approach while denouncing a full repeal. McCrory established a similar position, suggesting he would not approve a repeal of the standards but conceded that changes could be made to strengthen the standards.

New Hanover County Board of Education Chairman Don Hayes said he supports legislature’s efforts to reconsider the standards, which is what the board requested in a September 2013 resolution.

Hayes said he sees merit in ether initiative as long as a group of local educators, business professionals and other stakeholders were involved in the process, but worried how school operations would be affected while standards were modified or replaced.

“Many times, if you’re constantly changing things and then if the assessments don’t line up with the standards you put into place, when you test, your results are not going to be accurate. It’s going to look bad,” Hayes said during a June 11 phone interview.

During an April interview with Lumina News, superintendent Dr. Tim Markley also said a Common Core repeal could upset school operations while new standards are drafted, with teachers and administrators relying on assessments created for discarded standards.

Both House and Senate bills as they currently stand would drop Common Core standards in July, before the 2014-15 school year begins.

email miriah@luminanews.com


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