The Walking Core: Standards Won’t Die In SC

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Offi­cial­ly, Com­mon Core is dead in South Car­oli­na, wiped out Wednes­day by a vote of the state board of edu­ca­tion.

How­ev­er, lead­ers of the state’s anti-Com­mon Core move­ment are any­thing but hap­py, say­ing the state is being tricked by a bait-and-switch tac­tic that replaces the stan­dards with some­thing near­ly iden­ti­cal.

Sheri Few, the head of South Car­oli­na Par­ents Involved in Edu­ca­tion and a top cam­paign­er against Com­mon Core in the state, says that while the new South Car­oli­na Col­lege and Career-Ready stan­dards have a dif­fer­ent name, that’s about all that’s dif­fer­ent about them.

The state board of edu­ca­tion has total­ly ignored the par­ents and tax­pay­ers of this state,” Few told The Dai­ly Caller News Foun­da­tion.

She point­ed to an analy­sis done by the state’s Edu­ca­tion Over­sight Com­mit­tee that com­pared how sim­i­lar the new SC Col­lege and Career-Ready stan­dards are to Com­mon Core. Accord­ing to that analy­sis, 92 per­cent of South Carolina’s new math stan­dards are aligned with Com­mon Core, along with 89 per­cent of the Eng­lish stan­dards.

The list of major changes is rel­a­tive­ly short for both sub­jects. In Eng­lish, stu­dents are now expect­ed to learn cur­sive, and an appen­dix list­ing sam­ple texts for each grade has been elim­i­nat­ed (some com­plained cer­tain texts were inap­pro­pri­ate). In math, mul­ti­pli­ca­tion tables have been added and high school stan­dards are dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed by sub­ject rather than grade lev­el. Oth­er than that, changes are most­ly in word­ing rather than con­tent.

Accord­ing to Few, that means most of the glar­ing prob­lems she sees with Com­mon Core remain. The stan­dards are far too demand­ing of those in ear­ly grades, she said, while abrupt­ly slow­ing down for those in high school.

John­nelle Raines, anoth­er Com­mon Core foe in the state who taught first grade for 29 years, said that sev­er­al fac­tors like­ly influ­enced the state’s fail­ure to make a more dra­mat­ic break. She said mem­bers of the redesign com­mit­tee kept the old stan­dards on hand to work with rather than start­ing from scratch, and argued that the teach­ers cho­sen for the com­mit­tee were part­ly select­ed based on how open they were to the exist­ing sys­tem.

I don’t want to use the word rigged, but I don’t think it was done as fair as it could be,” Raines told TheD­C­NF. She also said that teach­ers may sim­ply have desired to make switch­ing to new stan­dards rel­a­tive­ly pain­less rather than hav­ing to spend years work­ing on a more ambi­tious over­haul.

Few, mean­while, put blame on new­ly elect­ed Repub­li­can schools super­in­ten­dent Mol­ly Spear­man, who was elect­ed last year on an anti-Com­mon Core plat­form.

She knows as well as I do that she was nev­er opposed to Com­mon Core,” Few said. “She said it to get elect­ed.”

Anoth­er fac­tor in play? The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion.