North Carolina could become the second state to back out of Common Core, the national teaching standards that have become a rallying cry for conservative activists.
The state House and Senate on Wednesday voted on separate bills to repeal Common Core standards before the beginning of the next school year. The bills would task a new Academic Standards Review Commission with developing new standards to propose to the state Board of Education.
The legislature’s next step is to hammer out the minor differences between the two bills and pass a compromise version. Both measures passed their respective chambers on party-line votes; Republicans control the legislature by wide margins.
It’s not clear, however, whether Gov. Pat McCrory (R) would sign the legislation. McCrory said Thursday he favors high education standards but that he has concerns with the way Common Core standards were being implemented. Eric Guckian, McCrory’s top education adviser, is working on resolving those issues, a McCrory spokesman said.
McCrory has vetoed legislation passed by the Republican-led legislature before, though both his vetoes during the 2013 legislative session were overridden.
The North Carolina Board of Education initially adopted Common Core standards back in 2010, and state public schools have been using the standards for two years. North Carolina won a $400 million grant through the federal Department of Education’s Race to the Top program, in part for changes made under the Common Core standards.
The standards are not imposed by the federal government; they were first developed by the National Governors Association, in a committee headed by then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D).
But conservative activists have lambasted the standards as an intrusion into an area of government that should be determined at the state and local levels. Though business leaders and most governors back the standards, opposition has become a litmus test in Republican primary contests.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who supports the new rules, didn’t help his cause when he said in November that opposition comes from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.” Duncan later apologized for his remarks.
“We sold our kids’ education. We sold their futures for $400 million under a previous administration. Now what’s the price we pay for selling our souls?” asked state Rep. Michael Speciale (R), a Common Core opponent, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
If they do abandon Common Core, North Carolina would join Indiana in jettisoning the program. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed legislation dropping the standards in March.
Republicans in other states are trying to back out, too. About 100 bills to slow, stop or reverse Common Core requirements were introduced in state legislatures across the country this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, an 85 percent increase over the year before.