York County lawmakers host debate on Common Core standards

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comFebruary 25, 2014 

  • What is Common Core?

    Common Core is the name given to a set of standards developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Currently, these standards lay out what students should know in each grade level in mathematics and language arts and have been adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

    Supporters say:

    Common Core standards raise the bar in education and are designed to make sure students are career- and college-ready.

    Opponents say:

    Common Core created a national curriculum and takes power away from local districts. They argue that Common Core amounts to a federal takeover of education and that the standards themselves are misguided or inadequate.

Parents, educators and others interested packed a banquet room on Monday night to hear from opposing sides of the debate surrounding the Common Core Standards. The forum was sponsored by S.C. Sen. Wes Hayes, R-Rock Hill, and state Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill.

Speaking in favor of Common Core at the Magnolia Room at Laurel Creek were two educators from York County: Shelia Quinn, an associate superintendent for Clover schools, and Judy Mobley, executive director for secondary education for Rock Hill schools.

Speaking in opposition to the national standards for public education were Jane Robbins, an attorney, and Sheri Few, president of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education and candidate for state superintendent for education.

Quinn addressed the history of Common Core and compared the education standards to a marathon. Common Core sets objectives and establishes a finish line for students, Quinn said.

“Standards are benchmarks,” she said. “By nature, they’re not anti-Christian, they’re not left wing, they’re not right wing; they’re standards.”

She emphasized that Common Core was all about balance.

Few, who said she’d heard Quinn speak before, showed slides refuting Common Core claims.

The hundreds in attendance got riled up when Robbins spoke, with audience members cheering points they agreed with and speaking out in agreement and disagreement.

At times, Quinn and Mobley shook their heads during Robbins’ and Few’s remarks.

“It’s a workforce development model,” said Robbins of the standards.

Quinn disagreed, saying Robbins had uttered more misconceptions than she could rebut in her 10-minute allotment.

Panelists elicited applause at different times. Robbins challenged some pro-Common Core remarks and criticized the “fuzzy math” concepts and literacy standards.

Panelists on both sides disputed the cost of implementing or rejecting the standards.

All four panelists encouraged audience members to do their homework and learn all they can about Common Core.

“Don’t believe the one-liners and the rhetoric,” Quinn said. “We are teaching students skills and concepts that are going to get them ready in this world.”

After Monday night’s formal debate, the panel took questions from the audience.

Questions included topics such as how Common Core compares to socialism and the significance of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsing Common Core.

The discussion followed a similar appearance by the panelists at a Rock Hill school board meeting Monday night.

No formal action was taken at the school board meeting regarding Common Core.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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