State panel revisiting Common Core standards meets

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The future of what and how your children are taught in public schools is under the microscope in Raleigh as a newly formed committee dissected Common Core.

Some are hoping this marks the beginning of the end of the controversial program.

"This is going to be quite a ride," said Rep. Craig Horn.

That's how Horn summed up the next year-plus for members of the newly minted Academic Standards Review Commission.

Horn and State Sen. Jerry Tillman spearheaded the creations of the commission which is tasked with making recommendations on the Common Core Educational Standards to the State Board of Education.

"It was perceived that this was outside forces coming and telling a state how to conduct education," Horn told the new commissioners.

"I want North Carolina to own its standards," said Tillman. "I want it to own its curriculum. I want it to own its assessments, and I think we can improve what's out there."

However, it's likely easier said than done. At the Commission's first meeting at the Education Building in Raleigh Monday, commission member and State Board of Education Chair Bill Cobey had this to say: "I hope we can stay focused on the standards and not stray too often to discussions of curriculum and teaching methods."

Cobey's vision for the commission seems a moderate one.

"We will objectively evaluate the standards and make modifications where needed," he said. "But do it on the basis of facts and research, not emotions. Standards by themselves do not dictate curriculum or teaching methods.

Tillman, however, disagreed.

"Folks, if you've got standards out there, in the end, they dictate what you teach and the methods, because you're teaching to those standards, and the assessments, which are driven by those standards," said Tillman.

At its core, Common Core is just that: a set of standards. Supporters say there's nothing nefarious about using national standards to get kids around the country on the same educational page. The concept was initially pushed by a handful of Republican governors.

"There's a lot misunderstood," according to Chris Hill, with the liberal think-tank NC Justice Center. "It's looked at as some kind of takeover of public education, when really what it is, is a set of standards where we can benchmark state to state how well kids are doing, and that can help close the achievement gap."

They are standards supported by NCAE, the state's largest teacher advocacy group.

"We've got educators who are going to have a voice at the table," said NCAE Vice President Mark Jewell.

Jewell says there are two NCAE members on the commission and he hopes they'll help hold the line.

"We hope that the same standards will be used and may be branded with a North Carolina title," said Jewell.

However, from what was discussed heard Monday though, that's not what the lawmakers who designed the commission have in mind.

"What got us here won't get us there," Horn told the new commissioners. "It's a different world today. We need to make sure that a North Carolina high school diploma means something in this world."

"If we didn't want something done different, we wouldn't need you all in this room today," Tillman told the new commissioners. "The intent of the legislature was to take Common Core off the books to replace it, and to repeal it. The legislature, in my opinion, will not take something that's just a rehash. That won't work."

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