City schools, Coomer speak on Common Core bill
by Mark Andrews
Mar 07, 2014 | 1094 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During the Cartersville City Board of Education’s regular work session on Thursday, Common Core-based Senate Bill 167, which currently aims to eliminate the standards in Georgia, dominated much of the evening’s discussion. With the Georgia Legislative session ending Friday, March 14, Superintendent Howard Hinesley weighed in on the bill and Common Core in general.

“We support those standards and it has become a branding issue because the words Common Core have created, in my judgement, a number of issues because it’s tied to the federal government in this state,” Hinesley said. “...This [SB] 167 is really scary because if they eliminate the standards, you won’t have anything to assess against, and really, if you read the standards, algebra is algebra but, under Common Core, it’s something weird to some people. It’s a major political issue, and if you notice, the governor has seemed to get it because he said ‘we’re going to tweak it,’ because he understands the [assessment] side.

“My position has been, and the [Georgia Education Coalition], a part of systems we belong to, is look, if you don’t like the words ‘Common Core’ and you don’t necessarily want to affiliate, that’s one thing, but these standards are OK because they were developed by educators across 30 states, and you’re making something out of something that really shouldn’t be.”

While current Common Core standards currently only apply to English Language Arts and mathematics, Hinesley says he understands concerns surround the potential of implementing Common Core in the areas of social studies and science.

“I can see where you can get into a lot more trouble philosophically in science if you get into evolution and creationism ... . You can get into social studies where some people write history differently than the way I remember it and what I learned, but we’re not there yet and I think that’s what’s creating part of [the opposition to Common Core]. But that’s just speculation from what I’m reading,” Hinesley said.

Board member David Apple asked the superintendent about how Cartersville schools would address such a change in the classroom in the immediate future. Hinesley then elaborated further on SB 167, which has passed the Senate and is expected to move to the House for discussion and a vote Wednesday, March 12.

“What this bill does is say the [Georgia Department of Education] should create this giant, 17-member task force from all these different groups and then determine what parameters should be for local boards to be to adopt their own standards,” Hinesley said. “That’s not going to happen overnight and that’s kind of the direction that I understand we’re going in if it passes the way it is, and I’m thinking there’s going to be some amendments that will surface between now and the end of the session.”

Board member Floyd Braid expressed concern about language in the bill.

“...The worst part is ... language [in the bill] about making it illegal for school districts to use any assessment that wasn’t created by the state, so that brings in the [Advanced Placement] exams, the SAT, it brings in the ACT,” Braid said. “If the bill passed the way it was written, it would be illegal to give the SAT in the state of Georgia, and all the kids taking AP courses, they wouldn’t be taking [the AP exams].”

State Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville on Thursday spoke to The Daily Tribune News regarding on the ongoing Common Core debate. On Wednesday, March 5, a House committee facilitated a discussion on Senate Bill 167.

“I watched the meeting online as much as I could ..., and I can tell you that I’ve gotten several emails, phone calls and letters from Bartow County residents who are concerned about Common Core, either its continued implementation or the move to eliminate Common Core entirely,” Coomer said. “I’ve had comments from both sides and I don’t know if the bill that has been presented in the Senate will be able to pass in the House or even get a vote on the floor of the House.”

He continued, “I can tell you that my goal, personally, would be to craft a bill, have legislation that addressed the concerns of those who are worried that the Common Core curriculum, a set of ideals that are not shared by the majority of the community that we live in. We don’t want our education institutions, especially our primary and secondary institutions, to become indoctrination places for ideas that may not be supported by the local community.

“On the other hand, we do need to have a set of standards ... across the state of what students should be accomplishing, particular benchmarks in their education progress, crafting a balance between acceptable standards for teachers to teach to, but at the same time allowing local school boards and classroom teachers to determine the methods and the curricula to best meet those standards would be the right balance.

“I don’t know if that balance can be struck [in the remaining legislative days this week], but I hope it will be. If we don’t have a deal ... in the House, fortunately, Gov. [Nathan] Deal has already acted in this area to do exactly what I’ve said — to make sure the state of Georgia remains in control of its standards and the state of Georgia remains in control of its curriculum, leaving for local school boards and teachers to decide.”

The CCBOE will hold its regular business session Monday, March 10, at 6 p.m. in the central office board room. For more on the meeting’s agenda, read the Saturday edition of DTN.