The legislature started its unraveling of Common Core on Tuesday with a proposed law that would have the state adopt new standards for math and language arts.
The bill offers no specific timetable for replacing the controversial standards, but one of its sponsors said he expects them to be gone in about a year. The change will come as the State Board of Education undertakes its regular review of standards next year, said Rep. Bryan Holloway, a Stokes Republican and bill sponsor.
Quick changes could put the state in jeopardy of having to return a $400 million federal Race to the Top grant, Holloway said. The bill sets up an independent commission in the Department of Administration to advise the State Board of Education on new standards.
“This bill does replace Common Core, but it does not rip the rug out from under us today,” Holloway said.
The House Education Committee approved the measure 27-16. A Senate committee is set to debate its own Common Core repeal bill Wednesday.
Tea party conservatives around the country who consider Common Core an improper intrusion by the federal government into state education are pressuring legislatures to drop the standards.
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia adopted the standards that the National Governors Association and National Council of Chief State School Officers took the lead in developing. The standards are intended to prepare students for a post-high school life of college and work.
Since the backlash, states have started to back away from them, either by altering them or changing the name.
In an interview, state Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said “it would be virtually impossible” to have new standards developed and ready for implementation in a year, if history is a guide.
It takes two years to get input on a plan, then roll it out to schools, she said, including the time it takes to get recommendations from teachers and others and to revise drafts once they’re developed.
The move against Common Core is at odds with some business arguments that the standards are critical to educating students who need to compete in a global economy. A group of businesses, business groups and education groups ran a full-page ad in The News & Observer on Tuesday supporting “hire standards.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, local chambers of commerce, Red Hat, SAS and others signed on to support “core state standards.”
Gov. Pat McCrory, a Common Core supporter, said the problem is not the standards but the testing that’s become associated with them and the rocky implementation.
“I think the issue is not the high standards, which we have to have,” McCrory said. “I think the issue is the implementation and execution, especially with regards to testing.”
Under the House bill, the State Board of Education would adopt new standards as least as high as the current standard but would not be able to institute Common Core again.
Holloway said the state board could take pieces of Common Core but would be expected to dump most of it.
“We’re giving them directions to replace it,” he said.
Dissenters said the state board should be able to keep most or all of Common Core if it turns out to be the best alternative.
“If the highest standards are Common Core and they’re going to be barred from using them, then that’s a problem,” said Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat. “I don’t know if Common Core is going to be determined to be the highest standard. It may be. But we wouldn’t be allowed to use it.”
Staff writer John Frank contributed.