Common Core faces test in North Carolina

July 17
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has backed away from his support of the Common Core standards. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has backed away from his support of the Common Core standards. (Chuck Burton/Associated Press)

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory will allow the State Board of Education to rewrite its Common Core standards, backing away from his previous support of the controversial curriculum.

The state Senate approved a bill last week that charges a statewide commission to review the two-year-old math and reading standards — but falls short of a full repeal. McCrory said Wednesday that he would sign the bill.

“It does not change any of North Carolina’s education standards,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards.”

The Republican-controlled House and Senate had put forward dueling bills to repeal the standards before the start of the next school year. A compromise bill reached last week puts the decision in the hands of a 17-member review commission, made up mostly of education and business leaders, rather than immediately abandoning the standards.

“The bottom line is it’s a terrible system, [though] there may be some good things about it,” Republican Rep. Michael Speciale told the Associated Press. “It’s not something we should have ever accepted,” he added.

Schools will continue to use Common Core until new standards are in place.

McCrory has said the problems are mostly a result of execution – particularly over the issue of statewide testing – rather than high standards.

“Common Core, reading and math standards are good,” McCrory said last year. “But we must come together and improve the execution of these math and reading standards for the betterment of students and teachers.”

Common Core once had robust support from dozens of Republican governors, who voluntarily adopted the standards. But for some, the issue has morphed into a battle against what they see as an overreaching federal government.

Multiple states, led by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have made highly publicized moves this year to abandon the curriculum. Oklahoma’s effort to repeal the curriculum withstood a legal challenge this week in the state Supreme Court.

Notwithstanding the escalating attention on Common Core, the issue was left off the agenda of the Republican Governors Association’s three-day conference this month.

The North Carolina Republican Party opposes the curriculum as “an attempt to turn over the control of our education system to unelected and unaccountable private interests supported by the Federal Government,” according to its 2014 platform. Its platform in 2013 did not take a stance on the issue.

Rick Martinez, a spokesman for McCrory, said it’s too soon to know the extent of the proposed changes to Common Core, which he described as “a political football.”

“The governor has always, since day one, said North Carolina has to have high standards. Whether you call them Common Core, whether you call them anything else, at the end of the day, North Carolina students have to be held to high standards,” he said. 

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