Common Core debate is short on common sense
The legislative debate on education standards to be used in grades K-12 is one that is baffling on many levels.
The process of deciding what material will be taught at which grade level is a lengthy one that, done right, leaves plenty of time for consulting with teachers and other education professionals in each of the academic disciplines.
It took several years to design the so-called Common Core standards that were pulled together by educational professionals in 46 states.
Bills passed by both the House and Senate want North Carolina to develop its own standards by the 2015-16 academic year. The old adage “haste makes waste” comes to mind in envisioning how this change might unfold.
A year to overhaul language arts and math classes taught in grades K-12, train teachers on how the new standards will be applied and develop or purchase all new teaching materials will cost millions. It will also render the efforts and costs to implement the Common Core a total waste and require either the state or local school districts to find funding for a do-over.
A review commission, as envisioned by the N.C. Senate bill that would scrap the standards, would be made up of political appointees named by the house, senate and governor. Such a process would surely politicize a process that should be all about helping out children become the best they can be.
The idea behind the new curriculum was to move away from the rote memorization emphasis of the former state-based standards, and prepare students for a world in which critical thinking and problem solving are stressed. The state-based push behind higher standards across the nation is widely acknowledged as one that will better prepare students of today to become leaders of tomorrow.
The Common Core standards have only been taught a single year, which means they have barely been given a chance to work.
If problems have been found with parts of the standards, it would be far better to fix them rather than scrap the entire system that has made everyone in education — from students to teachers to administrators to parents — work harder and sharpen their skills.
For a handful of North Carolinians — namely 100 or so legislators — to think a hastily reviewed political fix will solve an issue of this magnitude is optimistic at best, lunacy at worst.
The speed at which the House and Senate bills were passed to dump the Common Core means a compromise measure meshing the two versions will likely be forwarded to Gov. Pat McCrory.
The governor, along with plenty of business leaders who understand that without a strong, educated work force the state will be left behind, have indicated they favor keeping the Common Core.
This is an issue where the governor needs to hold fast and do the right thing for future generations of North Carolinians and our state.