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The compromise on Common Core

N.C. lawmakers seem determined to unwisely repeal and replace the state’s Common Core education standards. But at least a House and Senate conference committee this week agreed that a panel being created to rework education requirements could consider keeping some Common Core standards – reformulated and under a different name.

That would align with the Senate version of the repeal-and-replace moves. It’s not as good as keeping Common Core in place and fixing its implementation problems. But it’s better than the alternative of completely tossing standards that most N.C. educators say are good and worthwhile – and wasting upwards of $100 million in state and federal dollars that have been spent on teacher training, materials and other needs associated with Common Core.

Said Sen. Jerry Tillman, a bill sponsor, of the final version the two bodies agreed on: “The standards commission can consider anything rigorous and North Carolina-owned – anything.”

Gov. Pat McCrory last month called eliminating Common Core standards “not a smart move.” But this week, he’s been more conciliatory toward the legislature, saying he’s in favor of high standards no matter what they’re called.

“What we’ve got to talk about is high standards, especially in math and reading,” he said Tuesday. “If you ask most North Carolinians if they want high math and reading standards, they’re gonna be for it. I don’t care what you call it … I could care less about the brand name.”

If both chambers concur on the conference committee report next week, McCrory’s stance positions him to sign legislation that repeals something he had once stood solidly behind.

The House, of course, had preferred and passed a bill that would not allow the consideration of standards already developed as part of Common Core – and even knowing that millions in state education dollars would be wasted did not sway their vote. They succumbed to the myth that Common Core was a federal takeover of education. So this week’s compromise might still fail.

Regardless, the direction the legislature is headed unfortunately will end this state’s participation in a worthy nationwide collaboration that holds students to rigorous, thoughtful expectations in math and language arts.

Yes, supporters of both legislative bills, the committee compromise and McCrory vow to maintain high standards despite the repeal. But most changes offered up by this legislature have served to weaken education, not strengthen it.

Despite criticisms, Common Core continues to have the support of business leaders and the military as well as many educators and parents because it has focused on high academic standards. That’s a value universally endorsed.

The public will be watching intensely to see if N.C. lawmakers make good on that pledge to keep standards high. The children of North Carolina deserve nothing less.

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