A bill to prohibit any Common Core-based education standards from being taught in West Virginia classrooms was taken up in the Senate’s Education committee Saturday. The standards have been debated for years at the statehouse and now lawmakers are looking at legislation that specifies what can be taught.
Common Core education standards have been a central point of debate in the West Virginia Legislature for years now.
In December 2015, the West Virginia Board of Education responded to concerns raised by both lawmakers and members of the public over the standards and voted to repeal them. They were replaced with the current education standards taught in West Virginia schools – the West Virginia College and Career Ready Standards.
These new standards were the result of an 8-month study led by state Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano who consulted with West Virginia teachers, higher education officials, as well as members of the public.
But during the 2016 state Legislative session, lawmakers were still concerned – saying the West Virginia College and Career Ready Standards were too similar to Common Core.
This year, lawmakers are attempting again to get rid of any remnants of Common Core with Senate Bill 524.
The bill prohibits Common Core based standards in West Virginia schools, and requires teachers to use two specific sets of standards in their place: math standards from California adopted in 1997 and English-Language Arts standards from Massachusetts adopted in 2001.
Republican Senator Patricia Rucker from Jefferson County is the bill’s lead sponsor and a former educator. She says it’s important West Virginia get rid of Common Core and bring in something that’s been nationally recognized and proven to work.
“Massachusetts is nationally recognized as one of the best school systems; California, same thing," Rucker said, "Both of these standards are before Common Core. No one can say that it has any relationship to Common Core, so we are making the constituents happy.”
Another requirement in the bill is that these new standards be implemented for at least five years, starting on July 1, 2017. Rucker says that’s so that both teachers and students have continuity.
“I know administrators; they have been told to do this, this year, something else the next year, something else the next year; they want stability, so that’s one of the reasons the bill says, we’re going to keep these standards for five years,” she noted.
However, if any changes are proposed to the standards within that timeframe, a 60-day written comment period would be required and at least four public hearings in various locations around the state.
Surprisingly, after the years of heated debates over anything related to Common Core, there were no questions or discussion in committee Saturday. However, a handful of senators did vote not to advance the bill.
Senate Bill 524 now goes to the full chamber for consideration.