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Too late to stop Common Core in Georgia?

062813 Cobb board 3
PHIL SKINNER / AJC

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Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, has made stopping the implementation of Common Core a crusade in Georgia and will hold a rally and press conference at the Capitol this afternoon at 1:30.

According to the press notification, Ligon  will call on Gov. Deal and the Legislature “to withdraw Georgia from its participation in Common Core national standards and forego any testing associated with these standards. Sen. Ligon will highlight how his bill, SB 203 - An Act to Restore Educational Authority to Georgia Citizens, will provide an orderly process to withdraw from the Common Core and help ensure that a transparent public process is established for the adoption of Georgia's educational standards.  Sen. Ligon will also highlight how this unprecedented national framework for education greatly increases data collection and data tracking on students. He will show why it is vitally important for the legislature to pass SB 167, The Student and Teacher Right to Privacy Act, which he is sponsoring to prevent life-long data tracking from pre-k through college and career.”

The education leaders in the House and Senate expressed doubt that Georgia will abandon Common Core, already well underway statewide, at a recent media forum. But further tweaking, as they described it, may occur.

Senate Education and Youth Committee Chair Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, said Gov. Nathan Deal defused many concerns about Common Core by pulling Georgia from one of the two state consortiums creating new tests based on the standards.

(Worried over the price of the consortium-developed tests, Georgia now plan to go it alone or join forces with other dissident states, creating fear among education advocates that cheaper tests will be inferior tests.)

“I believe the governor was correct in withdrawing from the testing consortium. But you have to have standards and you have to have comparisons to know how you are doing against top-ranked states and internationally,” said Tippins.

Also at the forum, House Education Chair Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, said Georgia spent three years and millions of dollars putting Common Core into practice. 

Abandoning it now, he said, “would hurt teacher morale.”

On statewide education listening tours last year, Coleman said, “I want to tell you Common Core is a discussion everywhere. We had a group of people that followed us to every one of them, the same people everywhere. We had the anti; we had the pro. One hundred percent of the superintendents said, ‘Let’s keep it, we’ve gone too far.’ They’re standards. That’s what they are. All the Georgia standards are in there. We need to correct them. We need to look at them. We need to revise them to where they need to be. We spent three years getting ready. We spent millions of dollars. Even teachers said unanimously, ‘Don’t make us start all over.’ Let’s stay the course for a while.”

Tippins said changing standards would be cost prohibitive. “As far as withdrawing from Common Core, personally I’m not sure whether the local districts can afford to do that.  It would be my estimate it would take between $150 to $200 million if you were to do an across-the-board curriculum adoption in both English and language arts. It may be more economical to take the course the governor has taken to review the standards, and, if they are deficient, tweak them and come out with a modified or enhanced set of standards that Georgia will live by.”

“In some parts of the state, it’s a non-issue judging from the feedback we got in our listening tour,” said Tippens. “In North Georgia, it is more of an issue than in middle and South Georgia. It will remain to be seen. We have to have an education system that is affordable and works.  As Chairman Coleman said, one of the great concerns of local boards of education and superintendents is if we have another change, what are we going to change to and what is the cost of transition going to be? I think if the standards can be tweaked and we get to point that we’re comfortable they are the most rigorous standards we can adopt, I think that’s fine, we can leave them as they are.”

You can listen to the forum here where Tippins and Coleman spoke

You can read a pro Common Core essay here.  

You can read an anti piece here.

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