Category Archives: Schools

North Dakota’s stance with Common Core

When North Dakota adopted the Common Core on June 20, 2011, it signed up as one of the last states to join. However, instead of finding itself suffering from whiplash brought on by opponents, it’s managed to perform one of the few, smooth implementations of the standards. Even so, this year did see a rather strong push to have the Core taken out of the state.

Defeating the Bill

As far as Core controversy goes, North Carolina has managed to stay out of the spotlight for many years. They brought in the new standards, put them to use in the classrooms and that seemed to be the end of it. Then, in 2015, House Bill 1461 came to light, demanding the state withdraw from Common Core altogether. Interestingly enough, the Bill was actually divided into two parts.

The first, Division A, required North Dakota to withdraw from the Core’s standardized test, Smarter Balance. This section was surprisingly torn, with a final vote of 43-46, falling to defeat by only three votes. Standardized tests are never positive subjects, so it came as no big surprise to find such dissent, especially with the bad stories about Smarter Balance emerging from other states.

The second, Division B, called for the total cancellation of the standards and was defeated 89-0, proving that the state stands firmly behind the standards. In fact, legislators at the hearing cited that the majority of educators across the state stood behind a Core that was developed for the state by the input of over 130 educators from North Dakota. To the parents that would argue the standards are too hard, representatives ask them why raising the bar is such a bad thing.

Parent Opposition

In light of the defeat, upset parents have been voicing their concerns that the state just isn’t listening, citing the 1,400 petitions around the state calling for the Core’s removal. Many talk about being worried about how such changes are affecting the children. In response, lawmakers point out the absurdity of getting upset over a test that hasn’t even been given yet. In the end, though, the parents opposing it aren’t loud enough to force the legislature into overthrowing a stable system the teachers are now integrated into.
In amongst the debates flying across the nation about the validity of or unconstitutional reach of Common Core, North Dakota remains a fervent fan even in the face of a few upset parents. To their educators throughout the state, the changes have all been for the better, and they have never been more ready to implement the new standardized testing than now. So long as the standards do what they promise and North Dakota adheres to them, their future looks much brighter due to the greater educational challenge.

New York’s adaptation of Common Core

Adopted July 19, 2010, New York brought in the Common Core standards in a very similar fashion to the rest of the US. Though initially planned to be put into practice by the 2013-14 school year, it has since faced an extension as educators and parents continue to vehemently express their concerns. However, such a move is leaving the state without a way to hold their teachers accountable for poor performance.

More Time

Though everything was supposed to be ready to go by the end of 2013, New York’s Board of Regents, the group responsible for overseeing all educational activity of the state, managed to delay the implementation by five more years, promising even the class of 2022 that they won’t be held to the standards. On top of this, they also granted teachers a two years’ reprieve from any type of consequences stemming from the new standardized test being given.

According to the group, they have heard concerns from both teachers and parents and feel everyone still requires more time to adjust accordingly. Many see this as an understandable reaction since just last year the new statewide exam was given, resulting in plummeting test scores. Many immediately blamed those in charge of the state’s educational system, citing that they failed to prepare classrooms enough for the change.

More Money

Of course, this change doesn’t come cheaply. In fact, this new course comes with a price tag of $525 million that will be used to train teachers to implement the standards. The Governor was less than pleased to hear this, especially since the teachers wouldn’t be held accountable for two years. In retaliation, he called for a serious re-examination of the ability of the Board of Regents to perform correctly, citing the two year grace period as yet another way for them to block the implementation of any kind of teacher evaluation system. One, he says, that is desperately needed.

However, not everyone is upset. The many legislators on both sides of the fence that were pushing for a delay understandably fully support this decision. It’s a step in the right direction to these supporters, giving parents, students and teachers what they’ve needed to ease most of the concerns.
In New York, the question isn’t about whether to get rid of Common Core, it’s about whether or not it will ever be implemented. Already the official switchover date has been pushed back nearly a decade in addition to postponing the general exam’s ability to prove or disprove a teacher’s abilities. No matter the outcome, the schools now have plenty of time to figure out and implement the Common Core standards that are so much tougher than New York’s previous requirements.

Missouri’s Common problem with the Core

Much like almost every other state in the US, Missouri jumped on the Common Core train, officially adopting it June 15, 2010. Unlike other states that had delayed negative responses, the state has been fighting opponents ever since the agreement was made. Though the Core remains, it’s the standardized test that eventually cracked under the weight of so much pressure.

Hilarious Retorts

The biggest argument against the Core is that many see it as an overreach of government power in regards to the education of the nation’s children. After all, each state has remained in charge of its own state’s educational standards for generations. Though the standards are entirely adaptable for each school to fit exactly what the states desire, it nevertheless makes the more conservative groups wary. In response to this, some state legislators tired of hearing the argument have offered payment to cover the cost of enough tinfoil hats for those that are paranoid about the Core.

Cutting the Exam

The Core did go into implementation under the full acceptance of transitioning to its Smarter Balanced exam, however, it ended up being the exam that led to actual government retaliation. The story goes that everything was ready to go. The teachers and educators found Smarter Balanced to be a decent test. Even so, as it turns out, Smarter Balanced failed to uphold its end of the bargain in regards to supplying certain resources and materials. This led to Governor Jay Nixon slashing $4.2 million from the education budget that would have paid for Smarter Balanced.

Does this mean Common Core will eventually be seen out? No one is quite sure. At the moment, it seems only the lawmakers know what they’re doing, and they’re remaining silent. Some, though, are discussing this step as the first toward Missouri developing their own learning standard with the hopes of rolling out a Missouri test in 2016.

All the same, the Common Core will remain in place until there are Missouri standards to replace them. To come up with these, an advisory group made up of legislators, educational leaders and certain parents are working to a common goal. In the meantime, many educators are left frustrated at the lack of communication, citing that they have no idea what’s going on or even what’s going to happen. All they know is that Smarter Balanced is no longer a worry.

An Unsure Future

Currently, the Common Core is under review by the state. Once the results are in, suggested tweaks and changes are expected to be made by the 2016-17 school year, implying that Missouri will work to keep the Core. Troublingly, though, such a controversial educational implication is having trouble garnering high enough attendance rates for these review groups, making the controversy around it seem a bit put on. Whatever the case may be, it can be safe to assume no calm will be reached until the upcoming election season ends.

New Mexico’s Common Core Adoption

Common Core appeared in New Mexico on November 29, 2010 with full support by the state. Unfortunately, such acceptance hasn’t lasted, turning it into a hotbed of protest not seen in even the most conservative states. While New Mexico has yet to join the increasingly long list of states to drop the Core entirely, it is nevertheless demonstrating signs of discontent from the usual parents and, more interestingly, from the students as well.

Initial Support

When the Common Core became an option back in 2010, Governor Susana Martinez grabbed hold and purported it to be the educational change the state needed to finally help it reach a competitive status in regards to national and worldwide educational standards. Behind her stood the Secretary of the Public Education Department, Hanna Skandera, loudly trumpeting New Mexico’s exemption to the Now Child Left Behind bill because of the switch to the Core, freeing the state from arguably restrictive measures.

Six Years Later

While it started fierce and fiery, support has wavered. Instead of seeing academic growth, reading and math scores are stagnant and ACT scores have even dropped. The new curriculum even shifted graduation standards, resulting in a drop in graduates. Due to this, many parents are taking advantage of the option they have to opt their children out of the Core.

Unlike the other states, however, it’s not just the parents crying out against the Core. Earlier this year, students in Albuquerque took a stand against the PARCC assessment test used to grade students on their Core aptitude by holding a walkout. A few hundred students joined in even though administrators warned them of consequences. Outside, they stood along the road with signs, getting passersby to honk in support.

The Core versus PARCC

While this may seem like a stand against the Core, it should be noted that PARCC is not a part of the Common Core curriculum. It’s merely an assessment test designed to examine students’ knowledge of the Core standards. Much like all statewide exams, though, it fails to actually provide an accurate representation of the students forced to take it. Because this was its first year counting toward graduation, many students became angered that a new test would determine if they were smart enough to graduate or not.

In light of this, Governor Martinez noted that the state has been preparing for years for this test. In reality, the thousands of other students that did participate reported nothing out of the ordinary save for the occasional computer glitch. Such information hints at the fact that students will never appreciate being judged by a number on a paper even though the SAT and ACT has been doing so for years. As far as the Core and PARCC are concerned in New Mexico, it seems the negativity is being focused on in spite of successes across the state.

Mississippi’s College and Career Readiness Standards

Though recognized as one of the more conservative states of the US, Mississippi nevertheless adopted the Common Core standards on June 28, 2010. Following the predictable outcry that has occurred across every state fearing for the sanctity of its independence from federal educational reach, Mississippi lawmakers have managed to hold on to the Core through the simple tactic of rebranding. While it’s impossible to say just what the future holds regarding Mississippi’s stance, it is currently working its hardest to educate the parents, more than the students, to at least do away with the fear mongering that has followed the Core around.

What’s in a Name?

Ever since the Core’s adoption in 2010, bills have been appearing to try and repeal them, citing the federal government overstepping its bounds. In Mississippi, at least, the opponents cite teaching to the slower students, data mining and inappropriate subject matters as some of the main threats to students now appearing following the adoption of this set of standards. Even so, legislature prefer the opinions of the actual educators rather than those that have never spent a day teaching. This is why so many of the bills that would veto the program have gone on to fail, even one that appeared earlier this year.

To make the Common Core less scary, the state is doing what it can to remove the stigma that comes from its name. While parents are very much against the Common Core, far fewer oppose Mississippi’s College and Career Readiness Standards. This name change occurred in light of how Tennessee handled their Common Core conundrum. It seems that altering a program’s title is far more effective for holding an honest discourse rather than triggering emotional responses.

In addition to the name change, the state has opened up a public comment period. During this time, Mississippi can hold an honest discourse with its public where educators can answer any and all questions related to a program that they’ve been working with for half a decade now. More importantly, though, they’re painting a clear picture of the difference between standards and curriculum and how the two are not equivalent in any way. This is proving to assuage many fears, leading to a calmer landscape in the southern state.

The Future of the South

While the Governor claims to be anti-Common Core but continues to veto anti-Common Core bills and the parents are slowly educated on the realities of the system, it’s still unclear as to whether Mississippi will be able to maintain its curriculum. Even with so many opponents, however, it does seem that popular opinion is quickly changing toward supporting the standards. It may be safe to say that so long as no crazy alterations happen during the next five years, Mississippi’s version of the Common Core is here to stay.

South Carolina’s Controversial Common Core

Though adopted July 14, 2010 during the first wave of Common Core introduction, South Carolina has always treated the movement with outright hostility. Never a state to stay calm, such seemingly blatant disregard for the state’s solidarity in educational standards has kept the state on edge for the better part of four years. Almost inevitably, though, the standards were dropped, however whether this was a wise decision is still being debated just as intensely.

State Pride

In a sentence that sums up South Carolina’s mentality, Governor Nikki Haley called for Core repeal by stating, “We don’t ever want to educate South Carolina children like they educate California children.” This is in regard to the ideal that the Core would unite the states so that every child everywhere would receive the same level of education. So, for instance, if a teen moved during high school, they would have no problem picking up where they left off.

Unfortunately, the message was taken to mean government takeover more so than college readiness. To further slander the Core, opponents sought out difficult and confusing math problems as testaments to what a poor decision adoption of the standards was. When teachers were asked about it, they were quick to point out that no state or classroom was ever forced to use specific problems, meaning the “evidence” was entirely misleading.

Core Cancellation

Deceptive though it was, it opened the floodgates of contempt, resulting in an official repeal signed in 2014 to go active for the 2015-16 school year. Interestingly enough, this bill also came with stipulations to prevent educators from simply re-adopting chunks of the Common Core and renaming it. Under this new bill, an Education Oversight Committee must sign off on all standards before they can go into effect. Though this certainly seems hypocritical in light of South Carolina’s detestation of any kind of federal control, it is in place due to reports coming from Indiana. There, opponents are accusing the state of simply changing the name but not the Core.

Teacher Worry

As the new school year without the Core looms ahead, educators are working hard to develop South Carolina standards for where they want their state’s children to be. Ironically, opponents of the Core have turned out to be unhappy with the new standards, seeing them as so difficult that they set their children up to fail. The Board of Education backs this belief by confirming that they are indeed more challenging. Teachers also support the difficulty increase, citing the fact that parents now can’t expect their children to learn how they learned. The world has changed and so have its demands upon graduation. The educators believe in their students and understand that in order to truly prepare them for graduation, the standards need to be made just a little harder.

Rhode Island – Small State, Big Controversy

Adopted July 1, 2010, the Rhode Island Common Core is still hanging in there amidst a torrent of opposition. Interestingly enough, it seems the smallest state in the nation is having one of the loudest battles regarding its educational future. Even so, it would seem that the noise may be just that—noise.

Quiet Until 2014

Unlike most states that began fighting their Cores in 2013, Rhode Island was a bit delayed. Arriving at the start of 2014, opponents have begun growing their voices. Including some teachers, a few parents and three communities, the group is publicly questioning if the cost of implementing the Core has been worth it. There was even a bill introduced by Republican Gregg Amore asking for a delay of a new test until 2015. As it turns out, the bill was supported.

Such malcontent stems from the main argument that the Common Core is a government plan to infiltrate and take over the entire US school system, a future that does not sit well with the states that very much enjoy their solidarity. Tacked on to this is the belief that the heavy focus on math and English is only there to undermine the values the state places on other subjects by limiting what teachers can do.

Core Debate

In truth, the Core developed out of a desire to keep up with the rest of the world in terms of educational might. Studies have shown that America is no longer the educational utopia it once was, falling behind countries like Germany and Japan. It also emerged as a potential solution to finally close the gap between the education received by low-income and that of high-income children, a move that would even the playing field come college application time.

As the cry for delay of implementation grows louder, so, too, does the questioning of who developed the Core for Rhode Island. Some college professors weren’t invited and remain unconvinced the new curriculum was fine-tuned by childhood experts. In response, now ex-Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist cited evidence of deep teacher involvement. As one of the biggest proponents of the Core, she was sure to bring in many educators from across the state to develop the standards into something that would work for the state and its children.

Tied to this is the fear that the standards will stifle teacher creativity, stealing away their freedom to teach. According to those behind it, the standards are a living document, designed to be flexible enough for each teacher to adapt it to his or her classroom.

No matter the acceptance or hatred of the Core, so far those against it are only asking for a delay, not a full blown reprieve. If educators can keep it in play for long enough to deliver proof that it works, there’s a good chance Rhode Island won’t join the number of states already pulling out.

New Jersey’s Two-Faced Core Conundrum

New Jersey was a part of the first wave of Common Core adopters, agreeing to take them on June 23, 2010 with full implementation by the 2013-14 school year. While their ambition matched that of all the other states that were promised potential access to the $4.35 billion in “Race to the Top” grants, the state’s tune has changed dramatically the closer it has gotten to election year, and the more assured Governor Chris Christie is of running for Presidency.

The Typical Evolution

New Jersey isn’t a special case by any means. It adopted the Core, probably tempted by grant money more than interest in the future of its students, then began integration over the course of the five years since. There have been proponents. There have been opponents. However, even as recent as 2004, the Board of Education remained steadfast in its support of these new standards. As it was to turn out, the start of 2015 cast the Core in a different light.

Political Bias

As of May 2015, Governor Christie no longer supports the Core, promising the state that it will completely pull out once New Jersey standards are developed by the end of the year. According to him, the Core has caused nothing but five years of turmoil that has ripped apart the community, leaving frustrated parents distanced from teachers. News sources are quick to point out that this change has only come around the same time as his grab for the Republican nomination. Even with this, that’s not all that seems a bit off.

Christie, though now a firm opponent of the Core, is only confusing the parents he decried as frustrated by sticking with the PARCC, the yearly assessment that grades students on their aptitude regarding Common Core standards. While odd, Christie did explain that the only way to not lose federal funding was to stick with PARCC. In truth, the government requires yearly statewide testing, but it certainly doesn’t have to be with a test devoted strictly to standards Christie seems determined to dismiss.

The public is very much of this same opinion. Though New Jersey’s Board of Education is rolling with the punches as best as it can, it was more than happy to call out Christie’s hypocrisy. To them, if he truly wants to purge the state of the Core, he needs to get rid of everything tied to it. They even go so far as to point to PARCC as the main problem, not the standards themselves.

An Unsure Future

The debate will no doubt continue until the coming election finishes. Until that happens, however, New Jersey will remain a hotbed of outspoken politicians calling each other out on hypocrisy and flip-flopping while the actual effect on the students and teachers will continue to go ignored just like it always has.

Uniquely Intense Debate for Common Core Standards in New Hampshire

Though a small state, New Hampshire has been embroiled in the Common Core debate so uniquely intense on the east coast since it adopted them July 13, 2010. From that day, it has met with nothing but a storm of conflict ripping through the states closest to DC. While it’s fought off a lot of naysayers over the past few years with some compromises, it nonetheless has had to put its foot down legally to keep the Core in place.

Veto Power

Earlier this year, Governor Maggie Hassan used her power to completely veto a bill that would have prohibited every school in New Hampshire from implementing the new standards. Named Bill 101, Hassan vehemently argued that such a bill would completely undercut the state’s aim to bring their students successfully into a 21st century work force. To her, the Core represents an innovative push into the future through modernized education akin to the standards upheld in Europe and Asia.

This is in retaliation to the growing voice of opposition that appeared around 2013. Those against it paint it as a federal scheme to undermine state control of education with the temptation of desperately needed federal money as the means to get states to sign on to an otherwise optional program. Instead of debasing the voices, Hassan appealed to them directly, asking them to not focus on the Core so much as the continued authority of the local districts over how the standards are implemented and taught.

Opting Out & Flexibility

Joining many other states to do so, New Hampshire, once a staunch voice against the practice, backtracked its ideals, passing Bill 603. This now allows parents to opt their children out of the standardized testing that accompanies Common Core. Like many states, though the new curriculum holds promise, the standardized testing does not. Seen as a long time hindrance to actual education, more and more parents are quick to save their children from the joke of standardized testing they once had to endure.

To combat this, New Hampshire then agreed to work to give their schools more freedom in regards to assessing student progress. While schools do need assessments to adhere to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the reluctance of parents to use Smarter Balance as the means by which their children are judged has forced the state’s hand. To go beyond the Common Core standardized test, New Hampshire is looking at both the SAT and ACT, two national tests that are actually used by the nation’s colleges to judge aptitude. With the Core aiming to make the children better ready for college, it would make sense that then applying that to tests that matter for their future careers should be the standard they seek to reach.

Economic Growth Hopes from Common Core in Maine

Unlike most of the other early adopters, Maine held out officially taking in Common Core until April 4, 2011. Even though a year later in enactment, opposition still arose in 2013 with the nationalization of concerns regarding the Core. While just as noisome as across the rest of the US, Maine is standing its ground against the onslaught of bills seeking to repeal the applied standards.

2014 Ballot

Adopted and implemented during the 2011 year, Maine became one of over 40 other states to agree to adhere to the Common Core standards initiative. While there were about two years of silence from the public, it was the Maine Equal Rights Center that spoke out first. In August of 2013, they declared that they would launch a petition campaign to repeal the curriculum. If it managed to collect enough signatures, 58,000, an option to fully repeal the standards would enter onto the November 2014 ballot. That many signatures would have also made it the first petition of its kind in the US. Though seemingly backed by a large amount of people, there were not enough to make it a reality, leaving the group defunct currently.

Former Governor Support

Not a few months later, former Governor, John McKernan Jr., went on record during a heavily attended conference of education to state that he very much supported the Common Core. In front of over 300 Maine educators, he declared his belief that the standards would have a positive impact on the educational lives of Maine’s students, allowing them a fighting chance at attending the best colleges around the world.

One of his main arguments was the benefit the Core could potentially have on the Maine economy. During 2013, there was a reported huge skills gap with many employers in every sector decrying the lack of skilled workers. By improving public schools, he argued, the economy would see the growth it was asking for.

Science Veto

It should be noted that Common Core only ever sought to upgrade English Language Arts and math. However, recent developments have introduced a science section. Unfortunately, current Governor Paul LePage gave his veto to a bill that would have required the implementation of Common Core science, citing budget restrictions in an already financially burdened time. While a fan of educational growth, LePage couldn’t justify forcing every school in Maine to rewrite their science curriculums.

Interestingly enough, many were disappointed. While English and math were certainly offensive enough to garner such statewide hatred, science certainly brought the two conflicting sides together, seeing this subjects as a way to foster job growth in Maine. Even still, current leaders are quick to point out that in about a year or two they plan on officially bringing in the science aspect of Common Core. Resources are stretched thin, and they need a bit more time.