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McCrory’s education standards

The N.C. House and Senate have each passed bills that would repeal the Common Core learning standards used in N.C. schools. That would end our state’s participation in a cross-country collaboration that holds students to rigorous, thoughtful expectations in math and language arts, and gives states a valuable tool of comparing results and progress to other states.

Losing all of that would be bad for North Carolina’s public school children. We’ve said so often in this space. You know who else has said so? N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory.

The governor reiterated his belief in Common Core again Thursday when he told reporters that eliminating the standards was “not a smart move.” McCrory also said, however, that he wouldn’t go so far as to say he’d veto a bill that repeals Common Core.

That has us worried. Our governor has an unfortunate history of professing one thing, yet cowing to Republican lawmakers when they send legislation his way. He famously said as a candidate that he wouldn’t sign restrictive abortion legislation, then broke that promise six months after moving into the Governor’s mansion. As Charlotte mayor, he railed against the meddling and “closed-fisted” culture of state lawmakers, yet this month he let Republicans kill a business privilege license tax that cities use for millions in revenue each year.

McCrory’s justification for the privilege tax elimination – that lawmakers promised they’d make up the revenue loss to cities – offers a clue to how he might handle the Common Core repeal. Don’t be surprised if the governor says he’s OK with the latter because he has assurances that lawmakers will develop rigorous new education standards.

That would be a dangerous risk. North Carolina would toss standards that are the product of years of collaboration between states and education experts, then place new standards in the hands of Republican lawmakers who’ve shown an inclination to weaken public education at most every opportunity. And let’s not forget why North Carolina said yes to Common Core in the first place: Our state had substandard expectations that caused too many students to need remedial courses in college.

Repealing Common Core also would waste years of curriculum and teacher preparation for the new standards, and it would steal one of Common Core’s critical benefits – the opportunity to compare our scores with other states and make adjustments based on best practices around the country.

The reason Republicans want to repeal Common Core, instead of fixing its minor issues, is that conservatives have fallen for the fiction that it’s a federal takeover of education. In other words, it’s politics. The governor knows it. Will he stand up to it, or will he once again decide to give in to politics himself? This time, our state’s children await the answer.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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