South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill to create a committee to review and replace national Common Core standards in the state before the 2015-16 school year.
Haley’s signature made South Carolina the second state to repeal and replace Common Core, after Indiana, which replaced Common Core with similar curriculum mandates. State Superintendent Mick Zais says he will work to replace Common Core with far better, and far different, curriculum requirements.
Common Core specifies what K-12 math and English curriculum and tests must cover, and was heavily promoted by the Obama administration. Critics say it 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 Zais reinstated the department’s decision to drop the tests.
The new 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,” said state Sen. Wes Hayes (R-Rock Hill), chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
Slow Transition Ahead
The bill would not immediately stop Common Core, however.
The new law continues “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.
“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,” said Sheri Few, a former candidate for state superintendent who founded South Carolina Parents Involved in Education.
“Nothing else matters if we don’t get rid of Common Core, because Common Core is destroying public education,” said Few.
Image by Gage Skidmore.