A legislative study committee recommended last week that the N.C. General Assembly enact a law directing the N.C. State Board of Education to replace the Common Core standards for math and language arts with a different set of academic standards.
Lawmakers certainly should be reviewing the effectiveness of Common Core standards – first used in North Carolina schools during the 2012-13 school year – and how their implementation has been handled. But they shouldn’t give into the political frenzy that has engulfed the standards.
More than 40 states have adopted the Common Core standards, which were developed by the National Governors Association and state education superintendents to lay out what students should be able to accomplish at each grade level. The goal was to bring consistency among education standards in the various states and also provide a state-by-state comparison of how well students are learning.
But Common Core has come under withering criticism from tea party conservatives such as Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who view Common Core as some sinister federal takeover of local schools.
The federal government does not require states to use Common Core standards – although states that do have a better chance of receiving federal Race to the Top Grants – and some states such as Indiana already have moved to replace them.
The standards still enjoy considerable support among many Republicans, most notably former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Pat McCrory. And the the North Carolina Chamber issued a scathing rebuke of the study commission following the release of its recommendation, chastising the proposal as “not only a step backward for our classrooms but it is a step backward for our manufacturing floors to the research labs and garages where the next big ideas are being born.”
The state already has spent $22 million preparing North Carolina teachers to operate under Common Core standards, which are now only being used for a second full school year. While the effectiveness and utility of these standards should be closely monitored, it is far too soon to render a final verdict on their efficacy.