Common Core was Ga.-led

From the beginning, Georgia led the effort to create Common Core educational standards that would allow schools across the country to measure themselves against each other. Those standards were later adopted by 45 other states, an achievement in which Georgia can take pride.

Our governor at the time, Sonny Perdue, co-chaired the National Governors Association initiative that created Common Core; Common Core is modeled in many ways on Georgia’s own education standards; in 2010, the nationwide ceremony celebrating completion of the standards was held at a Gwinnett high school, with Perdue presiding. And that year, the Georgia Board of Education voted to adopt those standards as its own.

The role of the federal government in all that? None.

Since then, Georgia has spent millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man-hours preparing its teachers to help implement Common Core standards, and in the process most of those teachers have become enthusiastic supporters. In a survey of some 4,000 Georgia public teachers last year, for example, just 14 percent described themselves as not supportive of Common Core while 75 percent said they were somewhat to very supportive.

But all that work and promise is likely to come undone if Georgia voters make the wrong decision come Nov. 4.

Despite the fact that Common Core was so clearly a voluntary, state-led effort in which Republican officials played a major role, a vocal element within the Republican base has distorted it into something it is not. Based on no evidence whatsoever, they have twisted it into a conspiracy of sorts by the federal government to seize control of local schools, with words such as “tyranny” and “dictatorship” often thrown into the conversation. They have tried to turn opposition to Common Core into a loyalty test of true Republican commitment.

To their credit, and with one notable exception, Gov. Nathan Deal and most other top Republican leaders haven’t indulged in the misbegotten rhetoric surrounding Common Core. Unfortunately, they also haven’t shown the courage needed to confront it either. And that lack of commitment is cause for concern.

The one major exception mentioned above is Richard Woods, who happens to be the Republican candidate for state schools superintendent. Woods is strongly opposed to Common Core, suggesting that it violates “the state’s constitutional right to govern education” and warning that somehow, standards that were created by and adopted by state officials also violate the Eighth and Ninth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

If Woods is elected state schools superintendent on that platform, I doubt that other Republican leaders will try to prevent him from dismantling Common Core in Georgia. As a result, Georgia students and parents will lose the ability to measure their performance against students in other states. And with a new SAT test due to be implemented in 2016 that draws heavily upon Common Core concepts, Georgia college-bound students may be put at a serious disadvantage.

It doesn’t make sense to risk all that, and to throw away years of hard work and preparation, just to placate a group of people that insists on believing what is demonstrably untrue.