Friday, February 17, 2012

Ed Reform Storm Clouds Gathering

South Carolina made news this week in a well-attended State Senate meeting regarding a bill that would reverse the state's 2010 decision to implement the Common Core standards. Senator Mike Fair opposes the implementation stating it takes away local control. An AP report on the proposed bill got national coverage in Education Week and a mention by Neil McCluskey of the Cato Institute in a piece called "War Against the Core". McCluskey wonders if the Palmetto State has a "huge desire to withdraw."

The AP report also got state coverage in the Post and Courier stating that Governor Niki Haley supports the bill "as an extension of her frequent complaints of federal overreaching." S.C. State School Superintendent Mick Zais also does not support the decision made prior to his election; however, he is committed to implementing the decision as required.

The meeting described as full, with standing room only. Testimony favoring the standards came from South Carolina educators who have been preparing for implementation since the 2010 decision. They expressed concerns about a rollback now and based on their experience working with the standards, they find them to be "good standards."

On the other side, testimony was presented from the following prominent conservative think tanks, all opposing the implementation of the Common Core standards:

1) Jim Stergios from the Pioneer Institute
2) Bill Evers from the Hoover Institute at Stanford University
3) Jane Robbins from the American Principles Project

Time ran out before all who wished to give testimony were able to and the meeting will continue February 23.

In an Op-Ed "Rotten to the (Common) Core", Furman University Professor Paul Thomas explains that the Common Core standards require additional testing and increased costs:

"New tests also create hidden and recurring costs despite claims that computer-based testing will save printing and scoring costs of traditional testing. Those hidden costs include both additional funds (such as insuring all schools have the technology to test all students) and most importantly costs in time. Teachers must be trained directly and spend time learning the standards themselves while a tremendous amount of instructional time will be replaced by yet more teaching to the test and, with the new regime of testing, more testing days throughout the entire school year."

Professor Thomas continues by noting that "SC public education is not now and has never been failing due to a lack of quality standards or high-quality tests. Curriculum (standards), instruction, and testing are the elements within the teaching process, but they are not learning. And not one of these elements should be confused for learning."

Professor Thomas believes that learning is "stifled in SC by the inequitable and often deplorable teaching and learning conditions in many schools," which will not be addressed by new standards and computer-based testing.

Stay tuned......

1 comment:

  1. Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute spoke in opposition to Common Core.

    You can follow him @JimStergios on twitter