RALEIGH: NC's Atkinson blasts move to end Common Core - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

NC's Atkinson blasts move to end Common Core

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RALEIGH, N.C. - A committee at the North Carolina General Assembly took a step Thursday toward the state pulling out of the national Common Core curriculum.

The new curriculum took effect for the 2012-13 school year in North Carolina and originated from a push by the National Governors Association. The standards describe what K-12 students should learn in core subjects and are designed to create a common base for learning across the United States. The federal government tied “Race to the Top” grants to adoption of Common Core standards as an incentive for states to use them.

"The Constitution says that North Carolina and the states will be responsible for its education - nothing about national standards," said Sen. Jerry Tillman, a Republican.

But one Democrat,  Rep. Tricia Ann Cotham, said, "We're going to see again individual members trying to get their hands on curriculum and to change things to go with their personal beliefs. And - curriculum should not be designed that way.

And June Atkinson, the state superintendent, had a blistering response when reached by WNCN.

"Why would people want to make a big fuss as adults and hurt our children in not being able to learn the things that are important for them?" Atkinson said.

"It worries me that people want to make a political issue out of our students learning how to add, multiple, subtract, divide, use fractions, percentages, decimals. Why? I don’t see any gain for our 1.5 million children in our state."

But some conservatives have opposed Common Core, including North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. Forest’s office put out a statement Thursday praising a move by the Legislative Research Commission on Common Core State Standards to eliminate the standard in North Carolina.

"The General Assembly listened to the voices of thousands of parents, teachers, administrators and concerned citizens about the issues with Common Core," Forest said. "This legislative action allows North Carolina to develop its own rigorous standards, created by its own teachers, school administrators, business leaders and parents."

The move would remove Common Core from North Carolina statutes and allow the State Board of Education to replace it in the state.

North Carolina would be free to develop its own standards for English and math, and a new Academic Standards Review Commission would be created. The new commission could make recommendations to the State Board of Education during a two-year review.

The move Thursday concerned one teacher at Millbrook Magnet Elementary when WNCN asked for reaction. Kristin Bellier said there was some uneasiness when Common Core began. But now that it's in place, Bellier said, "We felt like the Common Core has eliminated some gaps."

As for the debate on Common Core, she said, "Are we worried about standards or are we worried about curriculum?"

Comments from Thursday's meeting on Common Core
Sen. Jerry Tillman (Rep.):

"The Constitution says that North Carolina and the states will be responsible for its education - nothing about national standards. There's no role in the Constitution for the federal government or a national conglomerate of the states. So the Constitution was supposed to do this. And certainly it's better to have North Carolina teachers and North Carolina test experts and North Carolina test to determine what we want to do as high standards for North Carolina. It makes perfectly good sense to me."

Rep. Tricia Ann Cotham (Dem.):

"We're going to see again individual members trying to get their hands on curriculum and to change things to go with their personal beliefs. And - curriculum should not be designed that way. Curriculum is a complicated issue. It's not one where you just write something, you have to be able to assess, you have to make sure it's aged appropriate, developed mentally accurate. You have to make sure that it flows from grade to grade. And I'm one of the few licensed educators and principals in this General Assembly and I'm very concerned with other people being involved for political reasons and this is not good for North Carolina."

"We don't know what this means for our kids. … I'm very concerned how this will impact our teachers and all that they've been through and we're really concerned about education and fixing things and making things better. …

“This whole experiment has become political theater and that's bad for government -- that's bad for governing. That's not what we should do.

"I am frustrated, I am disappointed. I'm really not trying to debate Common Core good or bad. It's more of who's getting their hands in this big topic and people who are not trained professionals and understanding...and that it is scary because I'm worried about what issues will they want to put in there."

Kim Fink, Coastal Carolina Tax Payer Association:

"I'm happy there's going to be a change in the approach of the standards, I wish it was faster, I don't like Common Core at all, I don't like federal overreach, the social justice, the political correctness, the green agenda. I don't like bias in education. The kids need to be taught a skill set so they can go out and make their own decisions on what they approve of and not approve of. I think that when the federal government has more control over what happens in the school than the parents do, that is just wrong."

Andrea Dillon, Parent:

"I am frustrated -- this has been a year and half in the making. I've been fighting this ever since my son entered kindergarten. I'm a political blogger, I write the news, I write education, I've never heard of Common Core until my son went to school and started coming home with paper stamped with that on it.

“So I started to do some digging and I realized that this thing came in under the radar, it got passed in, it got put in our state statues here in North Carolina and it blew my mind. So I started digging, I saw the money trail, I saw all the money that needs to be made from the testing consortiums and the text books and all that good stuff...and so it's really not about raising standards - these standards have been debunked. …

"It's about a race to the middle - that's what it's about."

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.


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