The South Carolina House Tuesday passed a bill that would create a committee to review and replace national Common Core standards in the state before the 2015-16 school year.
Gov. Nikki Haley’s spokesperson said the governor intends to sign the bill. State Sen. Wes Hayes (R-Rock Hill), chairman of the Senate Education Committee also said Haley is likely to sign the bill and may do so as soon as Friday.
Common Core sets forth what K-12 math and English curriculum and tests must cover, and was heavily promoted by the Obama administrations. Critics say its offers mediocre academics, while proponents say it’s better than what most states had previously.
The bill sparked a debate earlier this spring when the State Department of Education decided to withdraw from national Common Core tests in anticipation of legislative action. The State Board of Education voted down that proposal, but the current state superintendent, Mick Zais, reinstated the department’s decision to drop the tests.
The bill, once signed into law, should clear any confusion caused by the conflicting orders. The bill prohibits South Carolina from using the federally funded national tests.
“A special assessment panel will be convened immediately upon passage of the bill to provide input for a new assessments system, and must seek public input,” Hayes said.
Slow Transition Ahead
The bill would not immediately stop all aspects of Common Core, however.
Once signed the new law “would continue implementation of Common Core Standards in [English] and Math in 2014-15, but also requires a cyclical review of these standards on or before January 1, 2015, for the purpose of adopting South Carolina college and career readiness standards for 2015-16” said Hayes.
Hayes said he does not expect the new standards to simply rewrite Common Core. He cited increased public awareness of Common Core as a reason to be optimistic for genuine improvements upon the national benchmarks.
Sheri Few, a candidate for state superintendent, was a bit more cautious, and pointed out that Democrats had already expressed their intent to rebrand Common Core as the South Carolina standards.
“It is all going to be determined by the new superintendent so it is critically important that we elect the right superintendent of education, otherwise we will end up just like Indiana, or Oklahoma, or Arizona with just a repackaging and rebranding,” said Few.
Few is running to replace Zais, who is not running for reelection. She will face several opponents in the Republican primary on June 10. She expects the vote to result in a runoff that will take place two weeks later.
“Nothing else matters if we don’t get rid of Common Core because Common Core is destroying public education. This has to be the first order of business, and for these other candidates it is not the priority. It is just something they simply added to their stump speech because they know that’s what voters want to hear,” said Few.
Image by Nikki Haley.