By Pam Danz-There is hope for North Carolina residents who are outraged by the imposition of the Federal Common Core Standards upon our innocent school children. A piece of legislation that gives hope to the voting public is SECTION 9.2. (b) of the NC Appropriations Act of 2013. It reverses the provisions of statute 115C-174.11 which allowed for the purchase and implementation of the controversial Common Core assessment tests. Our sensible Republican-led legislators have made it so that The State Board of Education cannot go forward with the next step needed to make Common Core complete. Now the State Board must make a report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee and wait for the General Assembly to enact legislation to authorize the purchase of the assessment instruments. This will give us time to learn more about the Common Core Standards (CCS) and determine if the federal standards are really what is wanted in North Carolina.
The NC General Assembly has also created a joint committee to study the CCS. The Committee will meet for the first time in January of 2014 and report its findings in the following May. This report will include possible ameliorating legislation and, if it follows the mandate set out in House Bill 733 – Common Core Study, it will include input from community representatives and parents. (The Committee cannot publish its own mandate until the Committee is confirmed when the legislature convenes In January.)
The appointment of this Committee is really good news because its deployment gives us a chance to find out what is actually in the CCS and what the results of implementing of them might be before we get too far down the road. At his October 7 town hall meeting in Hendersonville, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest stated, “”We agreed to the standards four days before they were released, and officially adopted them two days after they were published. We agreed to the standards before we knew exactly what they were.” Since the advent of Obamacare, the American public is justifiably leery of bills that are passed before they are read, so the fact that our Republican-led General Assembly is doing what it can to protect us from another federal power grab, pushed through with threats and promises is a very good thing.
In a telephone interview on November 11, District 113 NC House Representative Chris Whitmire lamented the “self-inflicted wounds” that the CCS have inflicted on the NC educational system. Whitmire is on the NC Education Standing Committee and he is well aware of what must be done about CCS. He said, “There are hardnosed folks on the Committee and they will dig deep.”
A little bit of history: On June 2, 2010 the North Carolina State Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the CCS under Ex-Governor Perdue’s aegis. Many North Carolinians subsequently objected to the socialist slant of the examples used in the CCS, their privacy issues for children, the lack of funding for implementation, the lack of field testing for efficacy, their diagnostic methods, and the fact that they cede the power to influence our children’s thinking to the federal government.
It is understandable that the NC Department of Education (NCDOE) buckled under to the carrot and stick offered by the US Department of Education (USDOE).
The USDOE enticed states to adopt the Common Core by tying approval of the standards to the $4.5 billion federal Race to the Top competition. Adoption of the CCS increased a state’s chances of obtaining a Race to the Top grant. In June of 2010 the timing was tight. The grant applications had to go in so the NCDOE went ahead and approved the standards before they were even released and rapidly thereafter submitted the grant applications.
It worked just as if the federal government had planned it to work that way. Three months after the N.C. State Board of Education unanimously approved Common Core English and math standards, the state received a four-year, $400 million Race to the Top grant. In fact, all 10 states that received a Race to the Top grant in 2010 adopted standards included in Common Core .
The NC General Assembly has taken two important steps to give North Carolinians some breathing room and a chance to more thoroughly evaluate the CCS. Now it is up to the people to encourage the Study Committee to make a serious effort to discern the true standards and common values of the citizens of North Carolina. Men and women of good conscience may find great value in more rigorous educational standards and a more standardized basic education, but these standards must first be tested in the laboratories of the states and the more offensive and unsafe aspects of the CCS removed. Only then might the individual states choose to federate their educational standards, from the bottom up, not the top down. There is great wisdom, however, in keeping our children’s socialization close to home where we can make sure it is socialization, not indoctrination into whatever world view happens to be in vogue in Washington DC.
Pam Danz lives in Flat Rock, NC and used to write for the Radford News Journal in Radford VA. Along with several other careers she has a Masters Degree in Education with experience teaching from Middle School through college.