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.
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.”