North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) issued a statement Wednesday that he will sign a bill passed by his state’s legislature to review and replace the Common Core standards.
As wral.com reports, grassroots groups of parents have pressed North Carolina lawmakers to repeal the Common Core standards. The state House voted 71-34, however, to approve a compromise measure that creates a new state commission to review educational standards and recommend the replacement of defective Common Core standards or those that are inappropriate.
While an earlier state House version of the bill would have outright banned the commission from retaining any of the Common Core standards, the compromise follows the state Senate’s version, which permits the commission to choose the best standards, whether from Common Core or another set of standards.
The Common Core standards will remain in place in North Carolina for the next school year while the commission, which will be appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, reviews the standards.
State Rep. Craig Horn (R) said it is the state’s “right and obligation” to set its own educational standards, rather than adopt a nationalized system.
“We’re not taking anything off the table to access the best ideas in the country to ensure we have the best academic standards,” Horn told lawmakers.
Rep. Tricia Cotham (D), however, voted against the bill, commenting that many opposed to Common Core blame President Obama for the controversial standards, even though it was the nation’s governors under the leadership of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) that pressed for the initiative.
“We’ve invested a lot of time, we’ve invested a lot of money” in the transition to Common Core, Cotham said. “I think this sends a bad message to teachers, to parents, to students about what happens next.”
Cotham added that the Common Core standards have become merely a “political” issue.
State Rep. Michael Speciale (R), however, said the vote to replace Common Core “is not a partisan issue.”
“Even the Democrats’ children are coming home with Common Core homework,” he said.
Referring to the measure as a “victory for the people of North Carolina,” State Rep. Edgar Starnes (R) observed that the push to replace the Common Core “came from the parents.”
“What we have done is respond to the concerns of the parents of this state who want the best for their children,” Starnes said.
McCrory has been supportive of the Common Core standards in the past. Last month, he said the push to repeal the standards “is not a smart move,” but agreed some of the standards may need to be reviewed or corrected.
The governor expressed agreement with the North Carolina Chamber, which opposed the initial legislation to completely ban the Common Core, expressing concern that changes could lower the state’s educational standards.
Statements expressed by both the governor’s office and lawmakers pushed by parents to repeal the controversial initiative reveal the tension between pro-Common Core business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and grassroots groups of parents who want education decisions made at the local level.
McCrory’s spokesperson Josh Ellis, for example, was quick to smooth over on Wednesday that the final version of the measure that passed does not actually repeal the Common Core standards, but would have the commission make recommendations to change some of them. The state board of education would have to vote to enact recommendations made by the commission.
McCrory’s statement after the vote on Wednesday, in which he referred to the measure as the “Common Core review bill,” confirmed Ellis’ sentiment.
“I will sign this bill because it does not change any of North Carolina’s education standards,” McCrory’s statement said, according to the Associated Press. “It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards.”
State senate bill sponsor Jerry Tillman (R), however, tweeted out after the vote, “Senate Bill 812 heads to the Governor. Repeals #Common Core and puts NC in charge of our own standards.”
“Let’s hope the commission will do what is best for NC,” reads a blog statement on the website of Stop Common Core North Carolina. “We will all need to stay engaged and review the work of the commission.”
“We need representation from teachers and parents of students in elementary, middle and high school on the commission,” the statement continues. “Also needed is involvement from higher education engineering, math and other STEM departments.”
The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers own the copyright to the Common Core standards. According to an interview last year in StateImpact with Chad Colby, spokesman for Achieve, the education think tank that has helped develop and implement the Common Core, “States can do whatever they want and always have been able to.”
As a general rule, however, he said states are urged to add no more than 15 percent to the standards. Otherwise, the Common Core would no longer be “common” across states.
Colby added that states can make subtractions and additions or changes to the Common Core, but they do so at their own peril, since the multi-state assessments being developed by PARCC and SBAC, the two national consortia that have been funded by the federal government, will test the Common Core as it is written with no changes.