Retired N.C. generals urge state lawmakers to keep Common Core for benefit of future military readiness

Retired generals from North Carolina urged state lawmakers today not to repeal the Common Core State Standards, holding them up as the answer to maintaining a strong and highly qualified military force for the United States.

“It is alarming that poor educational achievement is one of the leading reasons why an estimated 75 percent of all young Americans are unable to join the military,” said Ret. U.S. Army Major General Bennie Williams. “Too many high school graduates do not have the skills the military needs.”

Ret. U.S. Army Lt. General Marvin L. Covault noted that 7,000 students drop out of school every academic day thanks to poor educational standards and resources – limiting the pool of highly qualified people the U.S. military has access to when choosing its soldiers.

“Common Core State Standards will increase the pool of qualified resources to select our ranks from,” said Gen. Covault, holding a report that details how North Carolina’s standards, which include the Common Core, help students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure the nation’s future military strength.

The U.S. military, said Gen. Covault, was in a sorry state of its own in the 1970s thanks to a lack of standards and accountability. That changed when leaders came together to set a higher bar for the armed forces, creating common tasks and goals for which military personnel were held accountable.

“In the U.S. Army, by the time we deployed to the Gulf War we had the strongest…and best trained military force in the history of the world,” Gen. Covault said, noting that conflict ended in a matter of days.

The Common Core standards, adopted by North Carolina in 2010 and put into practice during the 2012-13 academic year, are a set of guidelines of what students should be able to know and do in mathematics and English Language Arts.

Lawmakers have been moving toward repealing the Common Core standards for months. Last week, both the House and Senate passed bills that would halt the implementation of Common Core and create a review commission that would consider alternative standards for the state that are more specific to North Carolina’s needs.

The Senate bill, however, leaves the door ajar for the possibility that the Common Core standards could remain in force here in the state, and the retired generals offered their support for that bill over the House version.

But Senator Jerry Tillman, one of the drivers behind repealing the Common Core, has indicated in committee that he won’t let Common Core stay, saying he “trusts them to do this thing right.”

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