Common Core compromise advances in SC Senate

02/26/2014 9:26 PM

02/26/2014 9:27 PM

A compromise that would not require educators to throw out the Common Core could take the wind out of the sails of activists calling for the full repeal of the K-12 education standards this year.

A state Senate education panel voted Wednesday to advance a proposal that would leave the standards in place but review them no later than 2018.

Opponents have taken issue with the standards, which outline what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. The standards will be used in school districts statewide by next school year.

Critics also have said the federal government coerced states into adopting the standards quickly, leaving little time for states to review them.

The standards were created by associations of governors and state superintendents of education with input from educators. Two S.C. education boards adopted them in 2010.

Sen. Luke Rankin, R-Horry, on Wednesday questioned the criticism he has heard about the standards, which, he said, are supported by chambers of commerce and the Horry County School District.

“I’m slightly torn here with the perception that there’s this great conspiracy that South Carolina is being taken advantage of and being led by (President Barack) Obama into some system that is against our principles here in South Carolina, and the hook is the money,” he said.

As the legislative session draws to a close, compromise supporters are urging stakeholders to come to an agreement on something that can pass. The proposal also would give the General Assembly final say over any new standards that are not developed by the state Education Department, limit the student data that the state shares, and remove the state from a group of states working together to develop an end-of-year test aligned with the English and math standards.

The compromise is very different from the original proposal by state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, to void Common Core in South Carolina.

Lawmakers said repealing Common Core would be disruptive to school districts, all expected to be teaching with the standards by next school year.

Reverting back to the state’s old standards and their related tests also could jeopardize $200 million in federal money, said Dino Teppara, state Education Superintendent Mick Zais’ spokesman. That is because the funding is tied is to the rigor of the new standards and tests.

Teppara said Zais opposes the senators’ recommendation that the state switch to using the ACT, a national testing company that says it has a test aligned with Common Core.

Asked what Zais would recommend instead of their proposal – and whether the schools’ chief would support repealing Common Core – Teppara said Zais always has opposed the standards but without giving input on Grooms’ proposal.

That frustrated state Sen. Was Hayes, R-York, chairman of the committee.

“We’re trying to find solutions, and to basically come in and say: ‘Well, I’ve been opposed to it all along, but what you’re proposing is not a good idea?’ Give us a good idea,” Hayes said after the meeting. “I’d like to see it.”

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