South Carolina Senators Sour on Common Core

South Carolina senators are set to hear a proposal that could block the implementation of the national education math and reading curriculum standards – Common Core – in the state, despite teachers believing that the already-approved standards could benefit students.

Sen. Mike Fair's proposal would block Common Core, which South Carolina's education board adopted in July 2010, following approval by the Education Oversight Committee. Full implementation is set for 2014, writes Seanna Adcox at the Associated Press.

The Common Core initiative, which was led by governors and superintendents through the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, outlines the skills it is necessary for students in kindergarten through 12th grade nationwide to learn to be ready for college and careers.

Amy Hawkins, a coordinator for middle and high schools in Anderson 5, said:

"I'm here to tell you those standards are good standards. Our teachers are embracing them.

"Let's not toss these standards to the curb because of outside factors."

While forty-five states have already adopted the curriculum, Fair believes that the state of South Carolina should retain its own standards. But educators in the state believe Common Core would give a true measure of how South Carolina students perform compared to other states.

Nevertheless, various politicians have waded into the argument, with Gov. Nikki Haley, who supports Fair's bill, saying:

"Just as we should not relinquish control of education to the federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states."

Critics reject the idea that the standards are strong, saying that the new standards are mediocre compared to South Carolina's and that training and testing will be costly.

And while they believe it falls fall short of the intended purpose of making students across the nation more competitive once the standards are implemented, the state can't alter them.

Jane Robbins with the American Principles Project said:

"If teachers don't like it or parents don't like it, there's no one to call."

But Robbie Barnett from the state Chamber of Commerce points out that this is coming a little late in the day, as companies in the state have supported Common Core since 2009.

"We're way down the road to implementing this," he said.

State schools Superintendent Mick Zais said:

"Rather than personalizing and customizing education as I have championed, the Common Core is a one-size-fits-all solution that does not recognize the different aspirations and interests of students."

And while he didn't sound out his thoughts on Fair's bill, he said:

Unless the General Assembly reverses the adoption, "I will fulfill my oath of office to faithfully implement and administer statewide academic standards."

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