On Thursday members of the House Education Committee, who were supposed to take up the Senate version of a bill that aims to repeal the Common Core State Standards, instead replaced its language with their own version of the bill that they had already passed earlier in the legislative session.
Sen. Jerry Tillman, the bill’s sponsor, stood at the podium ready to present his bill to the House committee, apparently unaware of the surprise maneuver to toss his bill aside.
“First time in 12 years I’ve never received a PCS bill [proposed committee substitute of a bill] until I got here, late. I’ll give you the courtesy of putting any PCS I’ve put up out there,” said Tillman. “That’s just courtesy folks, and I believe in that and I’ll do that.”
Tillman was reacting to the fact that committee members failed to consult with him in advance regarding their intentions to never debate his version of SB 812, which, like the House version of the bill, seeks to reneg on the state’s promise to implement the Common Core State Standards.
The House and Senate versions of the Common Core bill are very similar. Each would halt the implementation process of the academic standards, which are a set of guidelines that set out what students should be able to know and do in math and English language arts. North Carolina adopted the Common Core in 2010, and at least 45 states and the District of Columbia have also adopted Common Core. [For more background, click here.]
The bills also authorize an Academic Standards Review Commission, housed under the Department of Administration, that would engage in a comprehensive review of the state’s English and math standards and propose necessary changes.
One key difference between the House and Senate bills is that the Senate version has language that keeps the door open for the review commission to recommend keeping Common Core in place, although Sen. Tillman has repeatedly indicated he trusts members of that review commission, who will largely be appointed by GOP leaders, not to do that.
“I want you all to know that there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind, unless a seed has been planted otherwise, that both bills would repeal Common Core,” said Tillman emphatically to House members on Thursday.
Sen. Dan Soucek, co-sponsor of the Senate legislation, made clear in committee that as the review commission contemplates alternative academic standards, the Common Core would remain in place at least for the start of this school year.
Rep. Craig Horn, sponsor of the PCS that replaced the Senate bill with the House’s language, thanked Sens. Soucek and Tillman for their hard work and cited a difference of opinion.
“I’m sure we’re gonna be able to sit down and work out something that’s going to be good for everyone,” said Horn.
The House Education Committee sent the Senate bill back to the floor with the language from their own House bill inserted into the Senate version; once that bill passes the full House, members of the Senate are expected to reject the bill, triggering the legislation to be debated and reconciled in a conference committee, likely next week.