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Members of the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) met Friday afternoon to continue their work in reviewing the Common Core State Standards and developing recommendations for high quality alternatives. But commission members quickly ran into a road block when the issue of the Common Core’s copyright arose, with some members becoming concerned that attempts to revise the standards, instead of scrapping them wholesale, would be met with a lawsuit.

State Board of Education attorney Katie Cornetto told ASRC members that they were free to come up with replacement standards that comprise some or even nearly all of the Common Core yet are called something else, and that they would not be in violation of copyright law because the standards are part of the public domain.

Cornetto’s assertion was contradicted by ASRC member Tammy Covil, who said that the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which are owners of the Common Core, would have to issue North Carolina a waiver if they wanted to use some of the Common Core standards in their replacement recommendations.

Covil, who has publicly decried the Common Core, said she did not feel comfortable moving forward with evaluating the standards and considering keeping parts of the Common Core until she saw a waiver from either the CCSSO or the NGA, neither of which have agreed to awarding one to North Carolina, she said.

“Either we go with an entirely new set of standards…as a recommendation…or we merely revise Common Core and open us up to a lawsuit,” said Covil. Read More

News

The Academic Standards Review Commission – that’s the state commission charged with reviewing and replacing the Common Core State Standards – meets again this Friday.

With the commission now adequately funded, members should be able to begin hearing from experts and assessing what benchmarks students should master.

But whether the commission decides to tweak the current standards or scrap them altogether is anyone’s guess.

NPR’s Claudio Sanchez took a closer look at the state’s efforts in his report this morning, which aired locally on WUNC.org:

Andre Peek (L) and Jeannie Metcalf (R)  co-chair the Academic Standards Review Commission.

Andre Peek (L) and Jeannie Metcalf (R) co-chair the Academic Standards Review Commission.

State lawmakers say they’ve been besieged by parents who are unhappy with, or confused by, the homework they’re seeing. Other critics see the Common Core as a Faustian bargain with Washington, which gave North Carolina $44 million to help implement the Core.

‘Review And Replace’

“North Carolina sold her soul,” says Jeannie Metcalf, a school board member from Salem, N.C. She co-chairs an 11-member commission that legislators created last July to “review and replace” the Common Core. That’s what the legislation — Senate Bill 812 — says. But now there’s a debate about what “review and replace” actually means.

To supporters of the core, it means the standards may need a tweak here and there. To opponents, it means they must be scrapped.

“That’s clearly what we are charged with and the intent of the legislation and of the commission,” says Metcalf.

The commission’s co-chair, Andre Peek, disagrees.

“Do I believe that the Common Core standards need to be replaced? Are not good? No. I don’t believe that at all,” he says.

Peek, a retired IBM marketing executive, was appointed by Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican and Common Core supporter. Peek says the commission’s mandate is not to repeal the new standards but to answer some basic questions before schools move forward with them.

Questions like: Is the Common Core rigorous enough? Can people understand it? And, has it been implemented in a way that’s going to lead to the desired outcomes?

The review commission has all year to answer these questions and to hear from all kinds of experts, for and against the Common Core. A couple of surveys are also in the works to gauge teachers’ and parents’ views. In December, the commission will deliver its recommendations to the legislature and state board of education. But in the meantime, the Common Core will remain firmly in place.

Peek says he’s confident that the commission will reach a consensus if, and only if, it’s based on the educational merits of the standards.

“And I can tell you right now that we’re not going to be used as a tool for some political outcome,” he says.

Peek’s co-chair, Jeannie Metcalf, does not see a consensus brewing: “There’s a chance anything can happen.”

Read More

News

In case you missed it, the News & Observer first reported this week that GOP leaders will gather privately in Kannapolis on Thursday to discuss their 2015 education agenda.

One of the key presenters at today’s closed door meeting? A representative from the education privatization group Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), which was founded by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

And if you follow education policy news at the national level, then maybe you didn’t miss the lengthy report filed this week by The Washington Post’s education reporter, Lyndsey Layton, which takes a close look at how Bush’s foundation has played a huge role behind the scenes in privatizing education at the state level since 2008.

But in case you did miss Layton’s story, here’s the foundation’s strategy:

Since its creation, the foundation has been largely devoted to exporting the “Florida formula,” an overhaul of public education Bush oversaw as governor between 1999 and 2007.

That agenda includes ideas typically supported by conservatives and opposed by teachers unions: issuing A-to-F report cards for schools, using taxpayer vouchers for tuition at private schools, expanding charter schools, requiring third-graders to pass a reading test, and encouraging online learning and virtual charter schools.

Layton notes that this agenda has already spread far and wide, having affected education policy in 28 states. While not mentioned in the Post story, it is worth noting that North Carolina is no stranger to the “Florida formula.”

In recent years, the Tar Heel state has seen the passage of legislation and policies that have opened the door for most of the initiatives that Bush’s foundation promotes. Read More

News
Andre Peek (L) and Tammy Covil (R) serve on the Academic Standards Review Commission.

Andre Peek (L) and Tammy Covil (R) serve on the Academic Standards Review Commission.

The state commission charged with reviewing and replacing the Common Core State Standards seems to be losing some of its momentum. Meeting for the third time since their appointment, commission members acknowledged Monday that without a dedicated budget it would be near impossible to bring in experts and accurately assess what benchmarks students should master.

The Raleigh News & Observer noted the frustration of Governor McCrory’s own appointment to the Academic Standards Review Commission:

“We are running out of time,” said Co-Chairman Andre Peek, an IBM executive from Raleigh. “This needs to be solved soon. We need money to bring in professionals.”

And as WUNC’s Reema Khrias reports, Peek’s not the only one annoyed by the current state of affairs:

“The lack of funding sort of communicates – to me – that there are very low expectations from this commission. If we can’t get some funding, most of the changes we’ll be recommending will be anecdotal,” said Tammy Covil, a New Hanover County school board member.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, a key proponent of repealing the Common Core standards, plans to meet with top legislative leaders in the coming weeks to try to line-up resources for the panel.

The Academic Standards Review Commission holds its final meeting of the year on December 15th.

Click here to read the legislation that calls on North Carolina to replace Common Core and establish its own robust standards that must be “age-level and developmentally appropriate.”

Commentary

In case you missed it, the Education Writers Association blog has an interesting story about teacher attitudes toward Common Core. Here is the opening:

In a new survey, teachers say they’re feeling more confident about using the Common Core State Standards in their classrooms — an optimistic finding that comes even as recent polls suggest dwindling public support for the initiative. Read More